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Press Release 09-28-2012

EEOC Sues O'Reilly Auto Parts for Disability Bias

Company  Refused to Accommodate Employee With Seizure Disorder, Then Fired Him,  Federal Agency Charges

MADISON, Wis. - O'Reilly  Automotive Stores, Inc., a national retailer doing business as O'Reilly Auto Parts,  violated federal law by denying the manager of its Beloit, Wis., store an accom­modation for his  disability and then firing him, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday. 

According to John  Rowe, director of EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, the  agency's investigation revealed that in  February 2011, Heath Craft was diagnosed with seizure disorder.  On March 9, Craft notified O'Reilly of his  impairment and requested a one-month leave of absence for treatment.  O'Reilly did not engage him in a good-faith  interactive process about his leave request and instead fired him on March 31,  2011. 

Denying an employee a reasonable accommodation and then  firing him because of his disability violates  the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit after  first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.  The agency seeks lost wages and  compensatory and punitive damages for Craft, an order barring future  discrimination, and other relief.  The suit, captioned EEOC v. O'Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc. d/b/a O'Reilly Auto Parts (Civil  Action No. 3:12-cv-710), was filed Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Western  District of Wisconsin in Madison and assigned to U.S. District Judge Barbara  Crabb.

"O'Reilly's website states:   'O'Reilly believes in . . . treating our customers and fellow team  members in the same way that we would like to be treated,'" Rowe said.  "Unfortunately,  it appears that the company is not complying with its own principles.  All Mr. Craft wanted was a short leave of  absence so he could keep on performing successfully.  There was no good reason why O'Reilly denied  him that accommodation and then fired him."

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John C.  Hendrickson added, "In our view, this  is one of those cases in which a reasonable accommodation would have made all  the difference.  An employer would have  kept a loyal and hard-working employee.   The employee would have kept a needed job.  That didn't happen, apparently because of a  violation of federal disability law.  Our  objective here will be to set things right."

According  to O'Reilly's website, O'Reilly Automotive, Inc. is one of the largest  specialty retailers of automotive aftermarket parts, tools, supplies, equipment  and accessories in the United States, serving both the do-it-yourself and  professional service provider markets.  Founded  in 1957, O'Reilly operated 3,859 stores in 39 states as of June 30, 2012.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is  responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative  enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois,  Iowa, Minnesota,  North Dakota, South  Dakota, and Wisconsin, with Area  Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.   The case will be litigated by attorneys in the Milwaukee Area Office.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting  discrimination in employment.  Further  information about the Commission is available on its website at t