Amusement Park Unlawfully Refused a Reasonable Accommodation for Worker with Intellectual Disabilities and Then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charges
AUSTIN, Texas - Austin's FEC, LLC and Austin Entertainment Center, LP d/b/a Austin's Park N Pizza, a Pflugerville-based amusement park, violated federal law by firing an employee because of his intellectual disabilities after denying him a reasonable work accommodation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed this week.
According to the Commission's lawsuit, an employee with mental impairments caused by traumatic brain injuries experienced as a child, worked for Austin's for approximately four years performing maintenance and custodial work. He only experienced difficulties logging in and out of work after Austin's implemented a new computerized timekeeping system.
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. The company refused to consider such accommodations and terminated him several months later.
Such 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.
"There was a very simple solution for keeping track of the employee's time that was rejected by the company," said David Rivela, EEOC senior trial attorney in the San Antonio Field Office. "Austin's Park N Pizza made a conscious decision to terminate him instead of accommodating his disability."
The Commission filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division (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) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The Commission seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.
"The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to enable employees with disabilities to have the opportunity to make a living, unless doing so causes an undue hardship," said Eduardo Juarez, supervisory trial attorney for EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "Employers who terminate people because of their disability, or because they requested a reasonable accommodation, are violating federal law."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.