Agency Says House Cleaning Company's President Mocked Stroke Victim's Gait, Also Made Unlawful Disability-Related Inquiry
CHICAGO - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit today alleging that Mont Brook, Inc., doing business as The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, violated federal civil rights laws by harassing an employee because of her disability and unlawfully inquiring about her disability. The defendant, based in Plainfield, Ill., provides residential house cleaning services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, according to its website.
The EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation, managed by District Director John Rowe, revealed that the company's president referred to an employee who walks with an abnormal gait as a result of a stroke as "a cripple," mockingly imitated the way she walks, and told her that she was being a "hysterical basket case" when she objected to that treatment. According to the investigation, the president also acknowledged asking the employee, "Are you crippled?"
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits subjecting an employee to harassment because of her disability. The ADA also prohibits making disability-related inquiries of any employee (disabled or not), unless the inquiry is job-related and justified by a business need.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. Mont Brook, Inc. d/b/a The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, Civil Action No. 13-cv-6799), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Norgle. The agency seeks damages for the employee who was harassed and an order barring similar violations of the ADA in the future, among other relief.
John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said, "More than two decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, harassment of employees with disabilities should be a thing of the past. Slurs and mockery of disabilities are not acceptable in the workplace."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.