Disfigured Employee Wins $95K in Discrimination Settlement

May 29, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Gaithersburg, Maryland-based storage facility has agreed to a $95,000 out-of-court settlement of charges it illegally fired a maintenance worker who had a visible disfigurement from injuries sustained in a house fire.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the agreement with Extra Space Management Inc., to dispose of the EEOC’s disability discrimination case filed on behalf of employee James L. Hill II.

An EEOC news release said Hill started working for the company in June 2006, but was discharged after meeting the acting district manager, who said that he “noticed (Hill) was handicapped, deformed or something,” and “it’s clear he can’t get the job done.” The agency contended Hill was physically capable and willing to perform all his job duties despite the disfigurement and charged in the suit that the company had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its handling of Hill’s employment.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the EEOC said the company agreed that managers and employees would be provided training on discrimination laws and that the company’s employment practices would be monitored.

“Mr. Hill had been successfully performing his duties,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Maria Salacuse, in the news release. “Society’s myths and fears about a perceived disability are often more handicapping than any physical limitations that may flow from a physical impairment.”