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Downriver Community Services Will Pay $31,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Federally-Qualified Health Center Denied Counselor a Reasonable Accommodation, Terminated Her, Then Refused to Rehire Her Because of a Herniated Disc, Federal Agency Charged

DETROIT - Downriver Community Services will pay $31,000 and provide equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC's suit, Downriver refused to extend additional unpaid leave to a peer counselor after surgery for a herniated disc, fired her based on her disability, and then refused to rehire her.

An employer may not deny reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of an employee with a disability unless the employer can demonstrate that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. Further, an employer cannot fire or refuse to rehire an employee because the employee has a disability. Any such conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

EEOC sued Downriver (EEOC v. Downriver Community Services, Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-13060) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process

In addition to the $31,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree provides for training on the ADA and prohibits Downriver from denying a reasonable accommodation or terminating or refusing to rehire an employee on the basis of disability.

"The goal of (Title I of) the Americans with Disabilities Act is to provide equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities," said EEOC Trial Attorney Dale Price. "Employers must make decisions based on the law and an employee's ability to do the job, not on stereotypes and assumptions."

Downriver is headquartered in New Haven, Michigan. It provides grant-funded health services in southeastern Michigan.

The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio. EEOC is a federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at