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PRESS RELEASE
6-6-12

Homestead Gardens Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Garden Center Agrees to Pay $50,000 to Worker Fired Because of Hemophilia

BALTIMORE – A Davidson, Md., garden center will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit for firing a worker because he has hemophilia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

In its suit, (Civil Action No. 8:10-cv-02709-RWT), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division, the EEOC charged that Homestead Gardens, the largest enclosed garden center in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C, metropolitan areas, engaged in disability discrimination when it fired Richard Starkey.  Starkey had been employed as a stocker when his mother disclosed through a casual conversation with Homestead Gardens that her son had hemophilia.  He was told not to return to work because of Homestead’s perception of his disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability, or who is perceived to have one.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Along with the monetary payment to Starkey, the consent decree settling the suit requires that Homestead Gardens provide the following relief:

  • Refrain from retaliating against any person because that person complained about, or participated in the investigation of, any charge of employment discrimination;
  • formulate written policies which provide for an effective complaint process for employees and independent contractors who work for Homestead Gardens to report employment discrimination and retaliation;
  • provide a toll-free number and e-mail address that employees may use to report allegations of discrimination and retaliation;
  • post a notice to employees on its commitment to follow the provisions of the ADA;
  • identify its equal employment opportunity officer and provide an expert to evaluate future requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA;
  • submit reports to EEOC on the outcomes of its internal anti-discrimination investigations and reasonable accommodation requests;
  • provide training to the manager and supervisors on the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; and
  • submit reports to EEOC regarding the company’s compliance with the consent decree.
     

“Society’s myths and fears about a perceived disability are often more disabling than any physical limitation that may flow from a physical impairment,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.  “This settlement achieves the EEOC’s objectives by providing relief to the victim while implementing measures to prevent future discrimination and retaliation.”

     

The EEOC enforces the ADA and other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.