San Jose-based Riviera Consulting will pay $100,000 to a former employee after the firm terminated him because of his poor eyesight.
A bookkeeper suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, a debilitating eye disease. A month after hiring him, the company added a job requirement: Bookkeepers must be able to drive a car. Rather than discuss any accommodations with the man, the company terminated him.
The bookkeeper complained to the EEOC, alleging that Riviera Consulting violated the ADA when it refused to examine any possible accommodations. The company’s myopic approach continued through the EEOC-sponsored conciliation process. However, when the EEOC filed suit, Riviera Consulting agreed to settle, avoiding a jury trial.
Riviera Consulting and two associated companies—Ali Baba Corp. and Oasis Care—agreed to pay the bookkeeper and his attorneys $100,000. Additionally, the companies entered into a three-year consent agreement under which they will contract with an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to revise their disability discrimination policies and procedures, including their process for evaluating reasonable accommodation requests.
The companies will also provide anti-discrimination training to all employees and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
Note: When changing job descriptions, employers should open the communication channels for possible accommodations. Unless an employer can show that it analyzed accommodations to determine whether they are reasonable or not, it cannot legally defend its refusal to provide the accommodation.