EEOC Settles ADA Suit with Federally Funded Housing Complex in New York
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Starrett City, Inc., a federally funded housing complex in Brooklyn, will pay $70,000 to a former employee to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
Starrett City refused to promote Ryan Burrowes to a permanent position of operating mechanic because he has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 06-CV-3230 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York). The EEOC said Burrowes had performed well as an apprentice for Starrett City from December 2000 to August 2004, and was the most senior apprentice who had applied for the position. However, because of his ADD and a related learning disability, he was denied the promotion for which he was well qualified, the EEOC asserted. As a result, his employment was terminated following his completion of the Starrett City Apprenticeship Program.
Such conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The consent decree resolving the case was sent to the court for approval. In addition to the $25,000 in back pay and $45,000 in compensatory damages for Burrowes, the two-year decree includes injunctive relief enjoining Starrett City from engaging in disability discrimination or retaliation; maintenance and distribution of non-discrimination, anti-harassment and complaint procedures; anti-discrimination training; posting of a notice about the EEOC and the lawsuit; and monitoring and reporting of alleged discrimination.
“Employers must recognize that they cannot discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability,” said EEOC District Director Spencer Lewis of the New York District Office. “Employees must be judged by their ability to do the job, not on stereotypes about disabilities.”
Michael Ranis, the EEOC’s trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “This lawsuit shows that the EEOC will use its litigation authority to eradicate disability discrimination. The settlement should remind employers that they face severe penalties when they violate the Americans With Disabilities Act or other EEOC-enforced laws.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.