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Salvation Army Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination
Aid Organization Rejects Applicant Due to Intellectual Disability, Federal Agency Charges
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Global charitable organization the Salvation Army violated federal law when it refused to hire a young man with an intellectual disability for an entry-level position at its Wasilla, Alaska thrift store, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
Based on the strength of his initial job interview, EEOC found that the Salvation Army store manager actually recommended hiring the applicant, who was in his early 20s, as a donation attendant in spring 2014. This position required no prior experience and simply involved accepting and sorting goods. The young man had completed high school and a follow-up job readiness program, finished three internships at medical centers, and held a part-time job at a local church. However, the Salvation Army requested a highly unusual second interview, and EEOC charges that the organization ultimately rejected this applicant due to stereotypes about his ability to interact with the public.
Failing to hire a qualified applicant because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska at Anchorage (Case No. 3:16-cv-00240-SLG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of the applicant, and injunctive relief such as training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of anti-discrimination notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.
« This applicant was fully capable of doing this entry-level job, » said Nancy Sienko, director of EEOC’s Seattle Field Office. « Being judged by his disability instead of his actual abilities and accomplishments was a big blow to a young person at the start of his job search – and disadvantaged the Salvation Army as well. »
EEOC attorney May Che said, « The ADA was enacted to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than general stereotypes about what people with intellectual disabilities can or cannot do. We filed this suit to ensure that all workers have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability. »