Every once in a while, we’re struck by an ADA settlement that begs the question: “Shouldn’t these people have known better?”  

Last month, we wrote about a non-profit agency whose mission is to help people with disabilities which fired a worker because he was deaf.

And now we come across the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center (CBHC), a non-profit social service agency in East St. Louis, IL, which will pay $309,000 to a former employee because management laid her off after she asked for an accommodation for her multiple sclerosis.

The EEOC had charged that CBHC, which provides emotional, rehabilitative and social support services, refused to provide a reasonable accommo­dation to employee Pamela Perry and then retaliated against her by refusing to rehire her after she was laid off.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Perry requested permission to wear athletic shoes to work in June 2002 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disability which caused numbness, pain and tingling in her feet.

CBHC allowed Perry to wear athletic shoes for a few years, but later disciplined her for wearing the shoes. When Perry’s symptoms worsened, she requested additional reasonable accommodations, which CBHC denied.

Two days after Perry wrote a letter to CBHC complaining about its refusal to accommodate her, she was laid off. The EEOC also alleged that CBHC then retaliated against Perry by refusing to hire her when she applied for a vacant position she had performed for a majority of her 23 years of employment.

In addition to the $309,000 payment to Perry, the decree requires CBHC to undertake specified actions designed to prevent disability discrimination, including adopting, posting and disseminating anti-discrimination policies, periodic reporting to the EEOC and training management employees regarding disability discrimination.


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