The Hyatt Corporation has nearly 800 luxury hotels in more than 50 countries. There are several here in Milwaukee, including a Hyatt hotel downtown and one at the airport.
Though the company prides itself on providing the comforts of home and much more to its customers, it was accused in a disability discrimination lawsuit of refusing to provide a chair to an employee with a chronic back ailment. Hyatt recently agreed to settle the suit with the front desk clerk for $85,000, plus six weeks of paid leave valued at $15,000.
According to a news report, prolonged standing at the front desk caused the employee severe pain. So the clerk asked the hotel to allow him to sit on a chair while at the desk. Hyatt initially agreed, but rescinded the accommodation after just two weeks.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says on its website that employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations that "remove workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities." The only valid reason for an employer to deny a reasonable accommodation is if the accommodation "would cause undue hardship to the employer."
The EEOC says "undue hardship" refers to situations in which the accommodation would cause "significant difficulty or expense" for the employer. Obviously, neither of those factors were at play for the clerk who simply asked to use a chair while registering guests, accepting payments and responding to guests' questions.
As part of the settlement, the hotel chain has agreed to provide the worker with a chair and agreed as well to train employees about their Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rights.
If your Milwaukee employer has violated your rights under the ADA, contact an employment law attorney with Alan C. Olson and Associates to discuss your legal options.