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PRESS RELEASE
4-20-15

Howard University Will Pay $35,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

University Refused to Hire Qualified Applicant for Security Officer Position Because of His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged

WASHINGTON - Howard University, a historically black university in the District of Columbia, will pay $35,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that Clarence Muse, who has diabetes that resulted in kidney failure, applied for and was interviewed for a protective services officer and protective services supervisor position with Howard University Hospital, a division of the university.  During the interview, when asked about his shift preferences, Muse disclosed that he preferred the evening shift because of his dialysis schedule.  Muse had over 40 years of experience as a police officer and security guard, including experience as a homicide detective and supervisor.  According to the lawsuit, Howard University hired more than 40 security officers and supervisors but refused to hire Muse, despite his excellent qualifications, because of his disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their disabilities.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Howard University, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-01186) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $35,000 in monetary relief to Muse, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit prohibits Howard University from engaging in disability discrimination.  The university will provide annual training to managers and those responsible for hiring within the hospital's Department of Protective Services on the ADA.  Howard will post both its anti-discrimination policy and a notice about the settlement on Howard University Hospital's human resources bulletin board.  The university will also report to the EEOC about how it handled any complaints of alleged disability discrimination in the hospital's department of protective services.

"As we mark the 25th anniversary of the ADA later this year, this settlement should remind all employers that the EEOC will take vigorous action to protect the rights of applicants like Mr. Muse, who was eminently qualified for a security officer position but rejected simply because of his disability," said Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "No one should be denied a job because of his disability.  We are satisfied that Howard University worked with us to reach a settlement that provides monetary relief to Mr. Muse and is designed to protect all applicants and employees from disability discrimination." 

The EEOC's Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Warren; and the Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.  The legal staff of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and parts of New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.