Denny's Policies Violate Workers' Rights, EEOC Claims
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 2, 2006
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND--The Denny's restaurant chain has discriminated against workers with disabilities by failing to provide reasonable accommodations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a federal lawsuit it filed last Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, the case centers on Paula Hart, the former manager of a Baltimore area Denny's, whose leg was amputated in December 2002. When Hart returned to work the following April, she was told her walker presented a safety risk, the suit claims. She was later fired after using up the 26 weeks of medical leave that Denny's provides for all employees.
The EEOC claims that Denny's violated Title I of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects workers with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace, when it failed to accommodate Hart's disability. The class action suit further claims that the company's medical leave policy violates the rights of workers with disabilities in Denny's restaurants across the country because it has caused many to be fired illegally.
The suit asks the federal court to order Denny's to comply with the ADA and stop using its maximum medical leave policy for workers who are legally entitled to additional medical leave. It also seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief for victims and the public, the EEOC said in a press release.
Commenting on the suit, Daniel Davis, acting director for advocacy and public policy with the National Council on Independent Living, told the AP: "All too often, what happens in these kinds of cases is that people make assumptions, and assumptions often lead to discrimination."
"There is often a tendency to describe people with disabilities as safety risks based on paternalistic attitudes, where people make decisions for others as to what they think is safe or not safe, and oftentimes those are based on uninformed stereotypes."
"Denny's Sued by EEOC for Disability Bias Against Class of Workers Nationwide" (EEOC)
"Suit accuses Denny's of discriminating against disabled workers" (Associated Press via Baltimore Examiner)