EEOC Sues Employer for Discriminating Against Autistic Worker

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit charging an employer with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to hire an applicant on the autism spectrum because of his disability. The employer originally found him well qualified for the lab technician position he sought, but after he disclosed his condition, he was told that the position was no longer available while the employer continued to recruit others for it.

After the EEOC’s attempt to settle the case through its conciliation process did not succeed, the EEOC filed suit seeking monetary and injunctive relief, including back wages, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks to require the employer to establish policies to prevent future discrimination against workers with disabilities.

In a press release on the EEOC website, attorney Debra M. Lawrence was quoted as saying that the case was brought because of the employer had discriminated against the applicant “based on its apparent presumptions about individuals with disabilities and their ability to be productive employees. It is exactly this type of prejudicial and stereotypical decision making that the ADA aims to eradicate.”

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has been communicating with the EEOC to enhance enforcement of protections for Autistic workers and is pleased to see this strong statement against discrimination. To read the transcript of ASAN President Ari Ne’eman’s 2009 testimony to the EEOC about improving regulations to protect Autistic workers, click here.