Company Disciplined and Fired Employee Because of Disability and in Retaliation for Complaint, Federal Agency Charges
PHOENIX — A Glendale, Ariz., golf club violated federal law by disciplining and then firing an employee on the basis of his disability and in retaliation for his discrimination complaint, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit against Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited, LP, the parent company of Arrowhead Country Club in Glendale, Kevin Rasnake complained about a discriminatory remark made by a new manager in December 2008. Rasnake, who has cerebral palsy, worked in the sales department at Arrowhead Country Club. After Rasnake complained about the offensive remark, Evergreen’s management reduced Rasnake’s sales responsibilities, set unattainable sales goals for him and disciplined him. Within six months of his complaint, Evergreen fired Rasnake. The EEOC charged that Evergreen took these actions because of Rasnake’s disability and in retaliation for his complaint.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits private employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited, L.P., Civil Action No. -2:11-cv-00662-PHX-JAT) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Rasnake as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.
“People with disabilities continue to have extremely high unemployment and under-employment rates,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. “The ADA was intended to ensure that workers with disabilities have equal employment opportunities. Taking negative employment actions against an employee because he is disabled or because he reported discriminatory conduct is unlawful.”
EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers must take complaints of discrimination seriously, address them appropriately, and protect their employees from retaliation.”
Evergreen operates 70 golf courses across the country, including facilities in Arizona, Nevada, and California.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.