The Justice Department last Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, charging the Puerto Rico Department of Justice (PRDOJ) with employment discrimination for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The complaint alleges that the PRDOJ knowingly relocated an employee who uses a wheelchair to an office building that was not accessible to her. As a result, the employee could not park her vehicle and enter the building without the assistance of others, and could not use the restroom during her work day. After the employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the PRDOJ eventually relocated the employee to a more accessible office building, but continues to require her to attend long meetings on a regular basis at an inaccessible facility.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act protects an employee’s right to work in an environment that is free of unnecessary barriers to access,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the employment rights of individuals with disabilities, who should not be relegated to working in locations that result in unequal and, in this case, unsafe and undignified working conditions.”
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers, such as the PRDOJ, from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, hiring, advancement, discharge, employee compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. In addition, an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of an employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities.
Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the department’s ADA website at www.ada.gov .