Detroit Nonprofit Whose Mission Is to Help Disabled People Refused to Accommodate and Fired Deaf Employee, Federal Agency Charges
DETROIT - A Detroit nonprofit formed to assist people with disabilities violated federal law by discriminating against a deaf employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.
According to the EEOC's suit, Disability Network denied a deaf independent living specialist reasonable accommodations and then fired him. For example, the nonprofit refused the employee his requests for TTY equipment, a video phone and the ability to use text messaging, and refused to provide him with alternate accommodations.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Metropolitan Detroit Center for Independent Living d/b/a Disability Network/Wayne County, Case No. 2:14-cv-12118) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for the fired employee, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.
"The irony in this case is incredible," said EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell. "Disability Network was formed to help and protect people with disabilities - and so was the ADA, under which we now have to sue them for violating their mandate and betraying an employee."
Metropolitan Detroit Center for Independent Living dba Disability Network/Wayne County-Detroit is a Michigan nonprofit corporation whose primary function is to provide services for people with disabilities.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.