Customer Service Support Provider Refused to Hire Applicant Because She Is Paraplegic, Federal Agency Charged

Thursday, March 21, 2019
HR Classroom ADA Reasonable Accommodation and Hiring Training Tips: Online ADA Training (Americans with Disabilities Act) that instructs an employee how to report problems at work, and assures them they will not be retaliated against for making a report, will often lessen the consequences of bad actors. Discipline and Termination Training, and Online Diversity Training of supervisors and employees may have prevented this costly case with the EEOC, and protected the employees involved.

Asurion to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
Customer Service Support Provider Refused to Hire Applicant Because She Is Paraplegic, Federal Agency Charged

JACKSON, Miss. - Asurion, LLC, an international customer service support provider for electronic devices based in Nashville, Tenn., has agreed to pay $50,000 and furnish significant relief to settle a federal lawsuit charging disability discrimination brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Asurion sought to hire 64 customer care representatives in April 2015 at its Meridian, Miss., location. Lakisha Person applied for a customer care representative position online and was qualified for the position. After reviewing her application, Asurion telephoned Person to discuss her interest in and availability for that position. During her telephone interview, Asurion's interviewer learned that Person is paralyzed from the waist down, and abruptly ended the interview without inquiring into Person's skills or relevant work experience. Person applied three more times for a customer care representative position, but Asurion rejected all of her applications.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on an applicant's disability. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-336-CWR-FKB) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division on May 4, 2017 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Asurion to provide training to its employees on its obligations under the law and review its anti-discrimination policy as well as modify the policy as necessary. The decree also prohibits Asurion from engag­ing in any discrimination or retaliation because of disability. The decree requires Asurion to post notices on its bulletin boards informing employees of their right to contact the EEOC if they feel they have been discriminated or retaliated against.

"Congress passed the ADA to protect qualified disabled applicants and employees from discrim­ination on the basis of disability," said Bradley Anderson, district director of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. "The EEOC takes seriously its mission to eradicate employment discrimination that occurs under all of the statutes that it enforces, including the ADA." 

EEOC Regional Attorney Marsha Rucker added, "As a governmental agency responsible for enforcing the ADA's prohibition against employment discrimination, the EEOC is vigilant in investi­gating charges of disability discrimination and, when necessary, taking legal action to ensure that job applicants and employees with disabilities in America enjoy equal employment opportunities. Ms. Person deserved the opportunity to be judged on the basis of her abilities rather than her disability."

The Jackson Area Office is part of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. The EEOC's Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction over Alabama, Mississippi (all but 17 counties in the northern part of Mississippi) and the Florida Panhandle.

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