FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE POLICE
WASHINGTON, DC - The Justice Department today announced that it has settled an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (“MDPS”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit charged MDPS with discriminating against a police recruit suffering from diabetes. Under the agreement, MDPS will pay $35,000 in damages and implement policies to prevent future discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleged that the MDPS refused to allow police recruit, Ronnie Collins, a reasonable accommodation for his diabetes, and unlawfully terminated him due to that disability. Specifically, it alleged that Mr. Collins made several requests for additional food at more frequent intervals in order to control his diabetes in light of the strenuous exercise and limited availability of food appropriate for his diet. The complaint alleges that his requests were denied and that as a result he had an incident of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) that left him confused and unable to report to training. The Highway Patrol subsequently dismissed him from the academy.
Under the settlement, which remains subject to court approval, MDPS will pay Mr. Collins $35,000 in damages. In addition, MDPS will implement a reasonable accommodation policy, train its training officers on the policy and on recognizing diabetes and other disabilities. The MDPS will also incorporate an overview of diabetes into its existing curriculum for training of troopers and future cadets.
“We are extremely pleased with this agreement, which provides the complainant with appropriate compensation and promises reform to avoid similar discrimination in the future,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “We will not tolerate discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace, especially when a solution to providing a reasonable accommodation can be readily achieved.
Today’s agreement continues President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative. Announced in early 2001, the Initiative seeks to provide Americans with disabilities the full access to daily life required by federal law. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has resolved 356 disability discrimination complaints through informal means, and another 144 through formal settlement agreements; in substantial cases, it has entered 14 consent decrees; and in addition, it has successfully resolved 575 complaints through mediation.
Those interested in finding out more about the agreement or seeking information about and how to comply with the ADA can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at <http://www.ada.gov>.