- The company that operates the New York E-ZPass toll collection system and its staffing agency have agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging the companies fired a worker after she requested an accommodation for a hearing condition, the agency said Thursday.
- EEOC alleged Broadleaf Results, Inc., the talent services provider, fired a worker it had placed as a customer service representative at an E-ZPass Customer Service Center in Staten Island, New York, operated by Conduent State and Local Solutions, Inc. after the worker said she was having trouble hearing customer calls and asked for an accommodation. The agency alleged Conduent failed to correct the situation, which it should have known was discriminatory. Under the settlement, the companies agreed to collectively pay $120,000 in lost wages and damages and provide managers with mandatory training on federal anti-disability discrimination law, the EEOC said.
- “Client employers cannot hide behind staffing agencies as the employer-of-record to evade their obligations under the ADA, including their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to workers with disabilities,” EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein said in a news release.
The ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities, including hearing impairments, and the EEOC regularly challenges companies who fail to do so.
For example, EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, which hears federal-sector appeals, ruled in April that a claim alleging the U.S. Air Force denied disability accommodations for more than 700 civilian employees and applicants who are deaf would proceed as a class-action case. The complaint alleged the Air Force didn’t provide American Sign Language interpreters, videophones and other translation services to employees who are deaf.
In the E-ZPass case, (EEOC v. Broadleaf Results, Inc. and Conduent State and Local Solutions, Inc.), EEOC Trial Attorneys Anastasia Doherty and Edumin Corrales said that in 2023 there are many creative ways to provide workers with adaptive and assistive technology as a reasonable accommodation.
Broadleaf counsel, Amy Habib Rittling of Lippes Mathias LLP, said in an email to HR Dive that the company denies all of the allegations, and “its decision to settle this matter with a consent decree was solely economic and pragmatic to avoid protracted and costly litigation. Broadleaf has admitted no wrongdoing under this settlement. Broadleaf has always maintained and continues to maintain an inclusive workplace free from unlawful discrimination.”
Conduent, in an email to HR Dive, similarly said it “entered into the agreement to avoid further litigation and denies any wrongdoing or liability, including any liability as a joint employer of the staffing agency employee.
“The company remains committed to maintaining a fair and equitable workplace for prospective and current employees and contingent workers in compliance with the ADA,” the statement said.