SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a settlement for $250,000 with AT&T over allegations of disability discrimination.
Miguel Meléndez began working for an AT&T predecessor, Centennial, as a switch technician in 2001. In 2008, Meléndez became visually impaired due to diabetes. After his doctor cleared him to return to work in 2009, Meléndez allegedly requested reasonable accommodation through the use of technology software that would allow him to perform his essential job duties.
Meléndez’s request went unanswered by Centennial or AT&T, according to the claims, and Meléndez was removed from his position in the interim. A year and a half later, Meléndez was permanently removed.
These alleged actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"It is important for employers to take accommodation requests from qualified employees with disabilities seriously and to respond to them in a timely manner," EEOC San Juan Director William Sanchez said. "The requirement by federal law to engage in the interactive process with an employee cannot be ignored."
Aside from monetary relief, AT&T agreed to reinstate Meléndez into a new position and offer reasonable accommodation.
“Under the terms of this consent decree, Meléndez may return to work at AT&T with a reasonable accommodation,” EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg said. “This result fulfills the objectives of the ADA, one of which is to ensure workers like Meléndez continue to participate in the workforce. We hope employers take note of this case as an example of how all workers may participate productively in the workforce, and how stereotypes about an employee's disability cannot and should not determine an employee's fate in any company."