The operators of a Lawton Burger King restaurant have agreed to pay a job applicant with an intellectual disability $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Thursday.
The EEOC filed suit in July 2018 alleging the defendants, Houston-based fuel retailer Northwest Petroleum, LP and Burger King franchisee Travis County Investments, LP (collectively referred to as NWP) withdrew a job offer from an applicant who sought employment as a dining room and bathroom attendant. The applicant was accompanied to his job interview by a representative from Community Access Inc. (CAI), an organization that provides services to Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But when he requested that a job coach provide onsite support at no cost to NWP, the company withdrew the job offer.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination in hiring based on an individual’s disability or need for a reasonable accommodation — such as a job coach — to perform the job. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief to the applicant, the three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by federal judge Wednesday, enjoins NWP from future violations of the ADA. NWP is further ordered to train its human resources manager and hiring managers in all locations on its newly updated reasonable accommodations process and recognizing individuals’ needs for accommodation under the ADA. The company is also required to regularly report to the EEOC all accommodation requests and will utilize services from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free resource provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.