Many South Florida residents may not be aware of exactly what The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does. The federal government agency is actually responsible for enforcing the laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.
The EEOC is also tasked with holding employers accountable that discriminate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination or participated in a discrimination lawsuit or investigation. These actions are generally called "retaliation" or "wrongful termination."
When we hear about the EEOC in the news here in Florida, it is usually because it is investigating an area company because of these charges, or even suing a company. However, the EEOC may soon find itself on the other side of the courtroom.
A former employee of the EEOC recently sued the agency, accusing it of disability discrimination and retaliation.
The employee, a former administrative law judge who worked for the EEOC until 2007, says that the agency failed to make accommodations for her multiple sclerosis and that when she complained about this, she was retaliated against.
Initially, a judge in an internal hearing ruled that the woman was retaliated against, but that the EEOC did not discriminate against the woman by not making accommodations to her work environment.
The worker initially appealed this decision, but has since rescinded that complaint in order to file a civil lawsuit.
Even though workers and job applicants with disabilities are protected against the type of discrimination alleged in this case under the Americans with Disabilities Act, about 70 percent of disabled workers in the U.S. are not currently a part of the labor force.
Those who are in the workforce and are discriminated against at work are wise to talk to an employment law attorney about standing up for their rights. By holding employers accountable for their employment law violations, workers help stop patterns of discrimination that infringe on the rights of disabled workers.
Source: Huffington Post, "Mary Bullock Discrimination Lawsuit Against Anti-Discrimination Agency Most Ironic Lawsuit Ever?" July 31, 2012
- Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our South Florida Employment Law page.