Today the Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with Riverside County, California, resolving claims alleging that the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint, filed on Sept. 28, 2015, alleges that the county discriminated in its employment practices by failing to hire a probation officer applicant because he has epilepsy. The job applicant was qualified for and could perform the job duties associated with the position, but the county withdrew his offer of employment solely because of his controlled epilepsy.
“Refusal to employ qualified individuals with disabilities, including epilepsy, because of their disability cannot be tolerated by workers in our country and will not be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.
“All qualified individuals, including those with disabilities, are entitled to equal employment opportunities,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California. “This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to eliminating all forms of discrimination.”
Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the court, the county will pay the applicant $50,000, offer him the position as a probation officer, provide training on the ADA and file reports on its compliance with the decree and ADA with the Justice Department. The county, which cooperated with the department in this matter, has also taken steps to ensure that its employment processes will be free of disability based discrimination.
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers, such as Riverside County, from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. An employer may also not deny employment opportunities to a job applicant or employee who is otherwise qualified if the denial is based on the need to make reasonable accommodations for the applicant or employee. This matter was based on a referral from the Los Angeles District office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who completed the initial investigation of the facts.
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.