National Waste Removal Firm IESI recently settled a disability discrimination case brought by the EEOC on behalf of one its former employees. Truck driver Ronald Harper lost his job when his new supervisor found out that he’s dyslexic. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes sufferers to inappropriately or unsuccessfully interpret graphic symbols when reading. Jay Leno often famously and openly discusses his own dyslexia in the media.
Harper was able to perform the essential functions of his job, but just four hours after informing a new supervisor that he was dyslexic, the supervisor fired Harper because he said he didn’t want Harper’s dyslexia to cause him to “see things swirly” and cause an automobile accident.
The supervisor’s perceptions of Harper’s disability obviously had no basis in fact or reality. Further, it’s a blatant violation of the ADA to terminate an employee because of a perceived or actual disability, especially in cases where the employer fails to engage in the “interactive process” to accommodate disabilities.
The ADA protects employees with physical and mental disabilities, including learning disabilities. Rather than appear before a jury, IESI admitted it discriminated, agreed to pay $95,000, and will institute several policy changes to prevent discrimination in the future.
Attorney Nicholas M. McLeod is an associate attorney with Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact him at: [email protected]