Energy Company Fired Employee Because She Has Dyslexia, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Protocall Communications, Inc., a company that markets energy price protection in eight states, will pay $31,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Protocall officials at its Laurel, Md., headquarters asked the employee with dyslexia if she had a learning disability. When she said she did, the director of human resources told her there was no point in continuing the training and denied the employee's request to be allowed to take the script home to practice it and instead fired her, refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a telemarketer trainee.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Protocall Communications, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:18-cv-02535-TDC) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to the $31,000 in monetary relief to the employee, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit provides substantial equitable relief, including prohibiting Protocall from denying reasonable accommodations or violating the ADA. The company will distribute its policies and procedures prohibiting disability discrimination and addressing reasonable accommodations to all employees and newly-hired employees. Protocall will train all managers, supervisors and human resources personnel on the ADA and its reasonable accommodation requirements. The company will report to the EEOC on how it handled any internal complaints of discrimination. Protocall will post a notice about the settlement and post notices required by EEOC regulations.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "We commend Protocall Communications for working with us to resolve this matter quickly and amicably. The settlement not only compensates the employee for her lost wages and damages, but also contains substantial equitable relief to protect all applicants and employees from disability discrimination."
"Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation, when needed, including during the initial training period," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson. "Most accommodations cost nothing or have a typical cost of $500, according to employer surveys conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). EEOC and JAN have free resources and guidance regarding reasonable accommodations on their respective websites, www.eeoc.gov and https://askjan.org."
The EEOC's Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov . Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.