Anxiety Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Citizens Bank

Federal laws protect employees from discrimination, employer retaliation.

Anxiety Disability Discrimination Lawsuit against Citizens Bank Settles for $100,000

Citizens Bank has been accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to accommodate a call center employee who developed an anxiety disorder. The employee requested reassignment to a position that did not require him to field calls with aggravated customers over the phone. Despite having hundreds of nearby job openings, Citizens Bank refused to reassign the employee or discuss alternative accommodations until he returned to his job at the call center, the same position his disability prevented him from performing. As a result, the employee was forced to resign.

“We’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of potential or prospective clients calling us since the pandemic began with regard to either mental health issues in general or anxiety and PTSD.” Andrew H. Friedman – in an Law360 article entitled, No Letup in Sight as Anxiety-Related EEOC Charges Mount.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit (EEOC v. Citizens Bank, N.A., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00362) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC alleges that Citizens Bank violated the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, including reassignment.

According to the EEOC, 2600 workers lodged anxiety-related disability discrimination charges in 2021. Citizens Bank has agreed to a 30-month consent decree that includes monetary relief and other measures to support employees with disabilities. The bank will offer noncompetitive reassignment as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The bank will also revise its reasonable accommodation policy, train its employees on noncompetitive reassignment as a reasonable accommodation, provide specialized training to its human resources department, and appoint an internal monitor to ensure compliance with the decree.

The EEOC is committed to enforcing the ADA and ensuring that qualified employees with disabilities can return to work. Citizens Bank will implement company-wide policy changes and pay $100,000 to a former Cranston, Rhode Island, call center employee to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit.

More information about disability discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc-disability-related-resources.

Papa John’s Pizza Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settled for $175,000

Disability discrimination laws protect blind employees accommodations for service dogs. Helmer Friedman LLP vigorously protects the rights of all employees.

Federal Agency Charges Pizza Chain Failed to Accommodate and Fired Blind Employee Because of Disability Settled

“Congress passed Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act to remove the barriers to employment faced by workers with disabilities, and for Mr. Barnes, his service dog does just that,” said Darrell Graham, district director of the Atlanta office. “The EEOC will continue its fight to ensure that all employees, regardless of disability status, have an equal opportunity to earn the privileges and benefits of employment.”

Papa John’s Pizza, an international chain of pizza restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky, has settled a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by agreeing to pay $175,000 and provide other relief. The lawsuit was filed after the company failed to accommodate and fired a blind employee because of his disability.

In early 2020, Michael Barnes, who is legally blind and relies on his service dog for his commute, applied for a job at his local Papa John’s restaurant in Athens, Georgia, after hearing from a friend that the company hired individuals with vision impairments. Barnes was hired but could not start until his accommodation request to bring his service dog was formally granted by Papa John’s. However, the company denied Barnes’s accommodation request and fired him before he worked a single shift.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “The ADA prohibits employers from terminating employees because of a disability and denying them equal employment opportunities,” said Marcus G. Keegan, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

“Not allowing blind and visually impaired people to travel to and from work in the way that affords them confidence and independence is akin to telling sighted workers who rely on the flexibility and independence of driving that they may not travel to work by car,” said Karla Gilbride, the EEOC’s general counsel. “We are glad that Papa John’s has agreed to provide training to its employees and hope that in the future, no other job applicant who uses a service dog will experience the discrimination that Mr. Barnes faced.”

Under the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Papa John’s will pay $175,000 in monetary damages to Barnes, train its employees on the ADA, review its employment policies, and allow the EEOC to monitor complaints of discrimination or retaliation.

“The EEOC will continue its fight to ensure that all employees, regardless of disability status, have an equal opportunity to earn the privileges and benefits of employment,” said Darrell Graham, district director of the Atlanta office.

“We are glad that Papa John’s has agreed to provide training to its employees and hope that in the future, no other job applicant who uses a service dog will experience the discrimination that Mr. Barnes faced,” said Karla Gilbride, the EEOC’s general counsel.

“The Commission is steadfast in its commitment to making sure all employees have an equal opportunity to earn and enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment, regardless of their disability status,” added Darrell Graham, district director of the EEOC’s Atlanta office.

For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.