WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today settled a lawsuit with the Puerto Rico Department of Justice (PRDOJ) to protect the rights of employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement resolves a complaint that the PRDOJ discriminated against an employee with a disability by failing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation, as required by the ADA.
The complaint alleged that the PRDOJ relocated an employee who uses a wheelchair to an office building that the PRDOJ knew did not provide the employee with accessible bathrooms or accessible parking. As a result, the employee was forced to seek help from others to park and enter her place of work, and she resorted to intentionally dehydrating herself at work because she could not access the office bathrooms, according to the complaint.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the right of every American to work without facing these types of indignities and hurdles,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement reinforces the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to ensuring the promise of equal employment opportunity for all individuals with disabilities.”
The settlement agreement, which must be approved by the district court in San Juan, requires the PRDOJ to pay $45,000 to the aggrieved employee; to provide training to employees on the requirements of the ADA; and to adopt policies to ensure that the PRDOJ does not require employees with disabilities to attend meetings at, or to be relocated to, an inaccessible office location.
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers, such as the PRDOJ, from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures; hiring, advancement, or discharge; employee compensation; job training; and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. In addition, a n employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of an employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities.
Those interested in finding out more about federal disability rights statutes can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov .