Comfort Suites to Pay For Discrimination Against Clerk with Autism

November 10, 2011 ( - Tarsadia Hotels, doing business as Comfort Suites, will pay $132,500 and implement changes to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) filed on behalf of hotel clerk with autism. 

The EEOC charged that a front desk clerk at the Comfort Suites Mission Valley Hotel in San Diego was denied a reasonable accommodation, disciplined, and ultimately fired in 2008 due to his disability.  The clerk, who has autism, had prior hotel experience in a similar position, where his work earned him a positive recommendation. Shortly after starting at Comfort Suites, he sought free job coach services from the state.  A job coach would have helped the clerk learn to master his job by using autism-specific training techniques.  However, Tarsadia refused to allow the assistance of a job coach and then fired him.

As part of settlement, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree under which Tarsadia will pay the claimant $125,000 and donate $7,500 to Partnerships With Industry, a San Diego-based non-profit organization that provides employment support to people  with disabilities. Tarsadia further agreed to sweeping changes, including revising its policies and procedures with respect to ADA compliance; hiring an EEO consultant to train all Tarsadia employees of their ADA rights and responsibilities, and ensure the proper handling of reasonable accommodation requests and disability-related complaints; and agreeing to hold managers and supervisors accountable in their evaluations for compliance with policies against disability discrimination and retaliation. The company will also submit annual reports to the EEOC on its compliance with the decree’s terms.

Mark Berger, president and chief executive officer of Partnerships with Industry,  stated in a press release: “We are grateful that EEOC took a stand against disability discrimination, a serious problem which all too often plagues individuals with developmental disabilities. We believe that individuals with disabilities can make productive workers as long as employers are willing to work with them through accommodations.”

The case is EEOC v. Tarsadia Hotels dba Comfort Suites, No. 10-CV-1921-DMS-BGS.