Monday 19 February 2018

Oakland Restaurant Sued for Discriminating Against Employee with Epilepsy

The San Francisco Gate is reporting an Oakland restaurant faces a lawsuit by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminating against an employee with epilepsy. The lawsuit alleges Merritt Restaurant and Bakery discriminated against a cook with epilepsy by delaying his reinstatement after he suffered a seizure, then cutting his work hours and firing him when he complained, a federal civil rights agency said Thursday.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused Merritt Restaurant and Bakery of failing to provide reasonable accommodations for its disabled employee, Jerry Gallon. Gallon, a cook and kitchen manager at the Lake Merritt restaurant since January 2009, suffered a seizure on the night shift eight months later, the EEOC said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title I of the ADA covers employment by private employers with 15 or more employees as well as state and local government employers of the same size. The EEOC is responsible fore enforcing the provisions of the ADA.

When is epilepsy a disability? This may not be a question that crosses owners or managers minds. Yet, epiplesy and other illness are protected by federal law and should be carefully examined before staff decisions are made. According to the EEOC epilepsy is a disability “when it substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities.” Major life activities are defined as basic activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning, and working. Major life activities can also include thinking, concentrating, interacting with others, reproduction, and sleeping.

Epilepsy may be a disability because of limitations that occur as the result of seizures or because of side effects or complications that can result from medications used to control the condition.

Remember to always be considerate before making decisions, especially if an employee experiences a medical problem while at work!

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