According to a recent lawsuit filed by the EEOC, Hospital Housekeeping Systems of Houston violated federal law when it denied reasonable accommodations and discharged a housekeeper due to her disability. The alleged discrimination took place at Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera, where the company has a janitorial contract.
The housekeeper applied for the position in 2006 with the assistance of her mother, disclosing that she had difficulty reading as a result of a mental impairment. According to the EEOC lawsuit, things started off just fine: The department director assured them that poor reading skills wouldn’t be a problem and hired the woman, according to the EEOC.
Two weeks later, a new department director noticed the housekeeper’s reading difficulties and tested her ability to read signs at the hospital. The EEOC contends that the housekeeper requested time to learn the signs at home, since she was not able to do so quickly on the spot.
However, the new department director denied her request for a reasonable accommodation and immediately fired her, even though other housekeepers without disabilities were also unable to read the signs, according to the EEOC.
Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, declared, “Applying higher standards to candidates and workers with disabilities is both wrong and illegal. In fact, employers should dialogue with them to ensure that proper accommodations—which are often minor—are made so they may be fully successful on the job.”