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Press Release 07-19-2012

Howard University Failed to Hire Applicant Due to His Disability, EEOC Says

Qualified  Applicant Denied Job Because Of His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charges

WASHINGTON  – Howard University in the District of Columbia violated federal law when it  refused to hire an applicant for a security position at its hospital because of  his disability, diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.   Howard University, founded in 1862, is a private, historically black  university.  Howard University Hospital  is a division of the University at large and is subject to its employment  policies and procedures.

According  to the EEOC's complaint, Clarence Muse has Type 2 diabetes that resulted in  kidney failure.  Around August 16, 2009,  Muse applied for two security guard positions with the university.  The EEOC said that Muse was interviewed for  both positions by Howard's associate hospital director for support services and  its director of protective services.  In  discussing his shift preference during his interview, Muse disclosed that he  needed to work a shift that would allow him to continue to take dialysis  treatments three mornings each week.  The  EEOC charged that despite being fully qualified for the security officer positions,  Muse was denied hire for both positions.   Muse's qualifications included over 40 years of experience as a police  officer and private security guard, including being a veteran of the  Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department.  According to the complaint, Howard University  continued to solicit applications for the security officer positions after  denying Muse hire, and ultimately hired more than 40 security officers.  

Such alleged conduct violates the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),  which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their  disabilities.  The EEOC filed suit in  U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission v. Howard University, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-01186),  after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation  process.  The EEOC seeks back pay,  compensatory damages and punitive damages for Muse, as well as injunctive and  other non-monetary relief.

"It is  unfortunate that many employers still deny work opportunities to qualified people  who are ready and able to perform the job simply because of myths and fears  about their medical impairments or disabilities," said EEOC Regional Attorney Lynette  A. Barnes, of the agency's Charlotte District, which oversees litigation filed  by the agency in Washington, D.C.  "This  suit should remind employers that the EEOC will continue to prosecute cases  where job applicants' basic rights are alleged to have been violated." 

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is  available on the agency's web site at