St. Louis Rams to Pay $134,000 for Alleged Disability Bias

Friday, August 21, 2009
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of a disability discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis Rams, the city's National Football League (NFL) team, for $134,000 and important remedial relief on behalf of Ron DuBuque, a long-term employee with a seizure disorder.

Under the terms of the consent decree, filed today for approval in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (EEOC and DuBuque v. The St. Louis Rams Partnership, The Rams Football Company, Inc. and ITB Football Company, L.L.C., doing business as The St. Louis Rams, 4:08-CV-01503-TIA), the Rams will pay a total of $134,000 to settle the case – including emotional distress damages of $100,000 and a $34,000 contract in which DuBuque will be engaged as a Rehabilitation Specialist for two years. The decree also requires the team to provide training on the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to managers and supervisors of the Rams.

"As this case and many others show, disability does not mean inability," said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. "All employers should make workplace decisions based on merit and qualifications to do the job, rather than on myths, fears, or stereotypes associated with a person's disability."

DuBuque, who had been an assistant trainer with the team for 11 years before he was fired, had epilepsy during his entire employment. DuBuque and the EEOC alleged that he had successfully performed his job until the Rams' management, in June 2006, claimed he was a medical liability and posed a threat to his own safety and that of coworkers. DuBuque was diagnosed with trauma-induced epilepsy in 1984, more than a decade before working for the Rams.

"We are pleased that Ron DuBuque and the EEOC were able to reach an agreement with the Rams that will enable us to further Congress' intention that persons with disabilities be treated as the valuable employees they are," said Regional Attorney Barbara A. Seely of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office. "The St. Louis Rams, one of the most well-known and prestigious employers in our city, have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide a workplace free from disability discrimination."
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