The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a Texas amusement park for allegedly violating federal law when the park fired an employee with mental impairments. According to the lawsuit, Austin’s Park N Pizza fired a man who had suffered traumatic brain injuries as a child after having denied him “reasonable work accommodation.” The man had worked for the last four years at Austin’s, providing janitorial and maintenance work. The EEOC contends that he had “only experienced difficulties logging in and out of work after Austin's implemented a new computerized timekeeping system.”
The agency says that the employee’s mother, who serves as his legal guardian, noticed that he had not been paid for several months. When the general manager told her that her son had difficulties using the new time-keeping system, the mother requested that Austin’s Park N Pizza offer alternative methods for keeping track of his hours. The EEOC contends that the company refused to consider such accommodations and terminated him several months later.
The business has thus violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the EEOC, which prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities by failing to reasonably accommodate them. "There was a very simple solution for keeping track of the employee's time that was rejected by the company," said EEOC senior trial attorney David Rivela. He added, "Austin's Park N Pizza made a conscious decision to terminate him instead of accommodating his disability."
The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC wants to claim unpaid wages, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief. EEOC supervisory trial attorney Eduardo Juarez said of suit in an October 1 release, "Employers who terminate people because of their disability, or because they requested a reasonable accommodation, are violating federal law." He said, "The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to enable employees with disabilities to have the opportunity to make a living, unless doing so causes an undue hardship."
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