The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-25-09

EEOC SUES AT&T FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

Telephone Company Refused to Hire Qualified Diabetic Applicant Because of Disability, Federal Agency Charges

AUSTIN, Texas – AT&T Services, Inc., doing business as Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, L.P. (AT&T), a major telephone company, violated federal law by refusing to hire an applicant simply because he is an insulin-dependent diabetic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, AT&T violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to hire an applicant as a cable splicer technician in Austin only because of his “insulin use” for type 2 diabetes. Indeed, according to the EEOC, the applicant indisputably had the necessary experience and expertise to perform the job and had previously safely performed a similar job for AT&T for many years after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his or her disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled, violates the ADA. After the EEOC’s San Antonio Field office determined that AT&T had violated the law, it filed suit (CASE NO. A09CA700JN) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.

“Hiring decisions should be based on an applicant’s qualifications and not on myths, fears and stereotypes about actual or perceived disabilities related to diabetes and insulin use,” said Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office.

According to its web site, Dallas-based AT&T “is recognized as one of the leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services to businesses.” Further information about the company is available at its web site, http://www.att.com.

“Employers must make hiring decisions based on the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job,” said Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “This company flatly refused to consider an applicant for employment simply because he is an insulin-dependent diabetic. AT&T should not have relied on generalized and grossly incorrect assumptions about a diabetic’s ability to perform a job, especially considering that the applicant worked for about 13 to 14 years in a similar job for AT&T, approximately ten years of which he was an insulin-dependent diabetic.”

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

This page was last modified on September 25, 2009.

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