In some ways one would expect that each of us would be in touch with being civil to one another and, as an extension, encouraging access to the “civil” rights upon which our country has come to agree upon. The fact that we need legislation and government agencies to enforce our rights as a member of the American society further illustrates the degree to which, in this life, we bump into each other as we attempt to reach the purpose of our lives.
The October 1, 2015 case of a member of our society who has his own intellectual disabilities (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Austin’s FEC, LLC and Austin Entertainment Center, LP d/b/a Austin’s Park N Pizza, Civil Action No.1-15-cv-00873) and his supervisor is a case in point.
According to the Commission’s lawsuit, an individual with mental impairments caused by traumatic brain injuries experienced as a child, worked for Austin’s for approximately four years (demonstrated his ability to carry out the essential functions of the job) performing maintenance and custodial work. He only experienced difficulties logging in and out of work after Austin’s implemented a new computerized timekeeping system (how the job was performed, not what was accomplished).
When the employee’s mother and legal guardian noticed he had not been paid for several months, she contacted the general manager to find out why he was not being paid. After the general manager informed her that her son was having difficulties using the time-keeping system, she requested the company consider alternative methods for keeping track of his hours (as his representative, she entered a request for reasonable accommodation. Documentation of the interactive conversation should have started at this point). The company refused to consider such accommodations and terminated him several months later (did the company document their search for an accommodation?).
This alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities by failing to reasonably accommodate them.
This is a very simple case that never should have occurred. Supervisor training, a good system of reporting the request for accommodation to a disability manager, documentation of the conversation with the individual’s representative, and a basic knowledge of the existence of Title I of the ADA would potentially have avoided this suit.
Further, one has to ask the question about the harm to the individual’s well-being as a result of the general manager’s motives for not paying the individual, not contacting his guardian, and then ultimately refusing to document.
Every individual brings value. When employers recognize the value that able workers, with disabilities, bring to the workplace, everyone prospers and it makes good business sense. Take a new look at the able workers with disabilities in your workplace and community; you might be surprised by what you see. The impact of just one life on an organization can be significant.
This is why we support our societal civil rights.
Interested in learning more about Title I of the ADA and how to support YOUR employees?
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