Company's Predecessor Unlawfully Fired Employee With Bipolar Disorder and Depression While on Short-Term Disability Leave, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA - Alorica Inc., a telesales and data services company that acquired Ryla Teleservices, Inc., will pay $135,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Ryla, the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Ryla Teleservices violated federal law by firing a customer service representative diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, from its Kennesaw, Ga., facility rather than accommodate her disability. In an effort to treat her disability, the employee took short-term disability leave, and later requested that her leave be extended for an additional four weeks. Rather than providing the reasonable accommodation of granting the extension, Ryla denied the request and terminated the employee.
The EEOC alleged that such conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities as long as the accommodations do not cause an undue hardship. It filed suit (EEOC v. Ryla Teleservices, Inc., Case No. 1:11-cv-02608) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting and posting of anti-discrimination notices. In the suit and consent decree, Ryla and Alorica denied any liability or wrongdoing.
"The American workforce includes many talented individuals who suffer discrimination because their disabilities are stigmatized or simply misunderstood," said Robert Dawkins, Regional Attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employers understand that providing reasonable accommodations to individuals with psychiatric disabilities is more than just the right thing to do - it's the law."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.