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Solano County disability advocates violate EEOC hiring rules

An agency that provides services to disabled individuals has gotten itself in trouble by violating equal opportunity employment laws. The group, based out of Solano County, was accused of discrimination by a job applicant whose employment offer was rescinded after agency leaders found out that her hand was partially paralyzed.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found out that the agency had called the woman's disability a "liability," and the group now may be forced to pay up in a discrimination suit.

The woman had applied for a job as a teacher for developmentally disabled adults. After she was presented with a job offer, she was sent for a pre-employment physical examination. She passed all requisite tests and informed the physician that she had partial paralysis in her hand, if an effort to make sure that the doctor had complete and accurate medical records.

Shortly thereafter, the woman was notified that she was no longer eligible for the position, even though the organization's own physician had cleared her for work. Agency leaders reportedly told the woman that her injury was a liability for the group, and they did not want her to cause further harm to her hand by working as a teacher.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of physical disabilities. Furthermore, employers must treat job applicants fairly under the same provisions.

The EEOC had initially attempted to reach a financial agreement with the group, but mediation was unsuccessful. As a result, the commission has filed a suit seeking back pay, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for the disabled woman. EEOC administrators say the agency's actions were inexcusable. The woman's disability did not impact her performance, and there was no reason to rescind the job offer.

Internet sources reveal that the group, Pace Solano, assists nearly 400 developmentally disabled adults at seven locations throughout the county. The group provides training, transportation and care for those individuals, and it employs about 200 workers.

Source: The Reporter, "Solano County disability services provider faces suit," Catherine Bowen, July 12, 2012

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