Man Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit against Bank of America
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), companies are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers to enable them to do their jobs. Such accommodations cannot be so costly that they would cause a financial strain on the company, and they should not endanger another employee’s safety. In the case of a Pennsylvania man who was employed by Bank of America, his request for accommodation seemed neither costly nor dangerous.
The ex-employee is a husband and father of two who has a college degree and 13 years of banking experience. In 1992, he was seriously injured in a car accident and still has issues with his right arm and leg. In 2007, he began working for Merrill Lynch, which accommodated his disability by giving him a left-handed keyboard and allowing him a little extra time between phone calls to make his notes regarding his client interaction in the computer. When Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch in January 2010, he stayed on as an employee in their customer service department. His new supervisors did not allow him to take a couple extra minutes between calls to type, and his productivity lagged. As a result, he was removed from the most desirable shifts. His requests to be switched to another position that required less typing or to have a little time in between calls to complete his typing were denied.
He also began to be reprimanded for being a minute or two late returning from lunch when he had to walk from a distant lunch room when the closer lunch room was full. In September, 2010, Bank of America fired him allegedly for being late returning from lunch. He contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to determine whether or not he had a valid complaint. The EEOC agreed with him and he was given permission to sue Bank of America for disability discrimination.
This ex-employee’s requests for accommodation were certainly reasonable, especially considering he had been a high-producing worker for Bank of America’s predecessor. Giving him a few extra minutes to type information into a computer or switching him to a position that required less typing would have hardly caused a financial burden on the company or put any of the other employees in harm’s way. According to the lawsuit, one of his supervisors told him “Bank of America doesn’t have ADA rules,” which is untrue because the bank, like any other company that has 15 or more employees, is required to abide by the ADA.
Sometimes large companies treat their employees like a number, and in today’s economy, many employees in this situation feel they shouldn’t complain and just be thankful they have a job. But laws against discrimination are in place for a reason: they are meant to protect workers from discriminatory behavior, no matter how big the company or how bad the economy. If you have been discriminated against at work, contact Steve Frederick, a Kentucky employment law attorney, to discuss your situation.
Disabled Employee Says Bank of America Fired Him for Slow Typing and Walking; Good Morning America; Susanna Kim; September 19, 2012
Daniel Herrmann, Disabled Worker, Says Bank of America Fired Him For Being Too Slow; Huffington Post; Ron Dicker; September 20, 2012