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Press Release 08-17-2020

EEOC Sues Design and Integration, Inc. for Disability Discrimination

Audio-Visual Company Fired Worker Who Requested Telework One Day a Week, Federal Agency Says

BALTIMORE – Design and Integration, Inc., a leading provider of audio-visual technology solutions, violated federal law when it fired a sales administrator who requested a reasonable accom­modation for her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. 

According to the lawsuit, a sales administrator who worked in Design and Integration’s Baltimore headquarters requested to telework one day per week for three or four weeks as a reasonable accommodation for her disability of anxiety and depression. Her duties included researching new projects, reviewing online job applications and conducting telephone interviews. Design and Integration refused to grant this accommodation even though she could perform her duties remotely, and the company allowed other employees to telework. Instead, the company fired the sales administrator and said it would not have hired her had it known about her anxiety and depression.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an individual's disability unless the employer can prove that doing so would be an undue hardship. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because she requested a reasonable accommodation. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Design and Integration, Inc., Civil Action No.1:20-cv-02350-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Even before the pandemic, EEOC guidance and case law established that telework can be a reasonable accommodation,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson. “In this case, it is hard to see how it would have posed a hardship. The employee requested telework for a brief time period, and the employer already permitted others to telework.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “Employers should engage in the inter­active process to try to keep qualified individuals with disabilities working. It is unfair, and against the law, to terminate someone simply because she requested a reasonable accommodation for her disa­bility.”

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 Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.