PHOENIX - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) announced today that is has resolved a disability discrimination lawsuit against aerospace giant Honeywell for $100,000 for a single charging party, as well as significant injunctive and remedial relief. The EEOC alleged that Honeywell, a large aerospace and systems control company employing over 100,000 people, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) when it engaged in a pattern of discrimination against Sherry Layne, a disability-rights activist who is hearing and visually impaired.
According to the litigation, Honeywell discriminated against Ms. Layne by withdrawing an accommodation for her disability, involuntarily transferring her, failing to accommodate her disability, and discriminating against her because she sought an accommodation of her disability.
In addition to paying Ms. Layne $100,000, Honeywell also agreed to the entry of a Consent Decree under which it is enjoined from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates on the basis of disability at its Union Hills, Arizona, facility including failing to engage in good faith to accommodate an employee's disability. Honeywell is also enjoined from retaliating against any employee who seeks to exercise his/her rights under the ADA. Additionally, Honeywell agreed to other curative relief including providing training at its Union Hills facility for employees involved in the decision making process for providing accommodations to employees with disabilities.
The EEOC's suit was filed in federal district court in Phoenix (EEOC and Sherry Layne v. Honeywell, CIV 97 2006 PHX SMM). Federal District Judge Stephen McNamee signed and entered the Consent Decree on November 20, 2002.
"This case is a testament to the determination of the EEOC and Ms. Layne to ensure no other Honeywell employee will be discriminated against by the company if she or he needs an accommodation in order to continue to work," said EEOC's Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary O'Neill, who oversaw the litigation.
Charles Burtner, EEOC's Phoenix District Director, said: "Congress enacted the ADA to remove the barriers that kept the disabled out of the workforce. Employers need to acknowledge that disabled employees want to and can be productive members of the workforce. Under the law, employers have a legal obligation to accommodate qualified employees with disabilities."
Ms. Layne previously advocated for the rights of the disabled when, in 1999, America West Airlines refused to permit her seeing-eye dog to sit with her in the first class compartment because of another passenger's objections. A complaint filed on her behalf by the Department of Transportation resulted in a heightened awareness of the airlines and the public that other passenger's stereotypes may not limit a disabled passenger's rights. Once again, Ms. Layne advocated for the rights of the disabled by joining the EEOC lawsuit as a private plaintiff.
The EEOC filed suit only after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre- litigation settlement. In addition to enforcing the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, the EEOC also enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older, and the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, American with Disabilities Act , and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government.