Paraplegic Wins $150,000 in ADA Settlement

December 17, 2002 ( - Printing giant R.R. Donnelley & Sons has agreed to pay $150,000 to a paraplegic graphics technician who was refused additional work as a temporary employee after had to leave work to take care of a rare incontinence problem.

US District Judge Matthew Kennelly of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved the settlement agreement with plaintiff David Mateski and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

The EEOC alleged that Mateski was discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the EEOC announcement, the case arose after Mateski was hired through a temporary agency for a position in the online services division at R.R. Donnelley in December 1997.

A few hours after Mateski arrived for his first day of work at the company’s Elgin, Illinois, facility in January 1998, he encountered a rare incontinence problem and was permitted to return home to deal with it.

That afternoon, his R.R. Donnelley supervisor called the temporary agency and told the agency that Mateski could not come back to work. Mateski filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and the federal agency found reasonable cause to believe that R.R Donnelley had discriminated against Mateski because of his disability.

After the EEOC’s efforts to mediate conciliate the case proved unsuccessful, the agency filed suit on Mateski’s behalf.

Pre-trial discovery in the case revealed that, although the company had written policies prohibiting disability discrimination, R.R. Donnelley had not trained the managers at its Elgin, Illinois, facility where Mateski worked, the EEOC said.

Settlement Also Mandates Training

In addition to providing for $150,000 to Mateski, the agreement requires R.R. Donnelley to train all managers at the Elgin facility about disability discrimination and to ensure that all of the human resources personnel throughout its 31,000 employee operation have received such training.

The settlement also calls for the company’s anti-disability discrimination policies to make specific mention of temporary employees, who may be unaware that they are entitled to the same protection from discrimination as permanent employees.

The EEOC quoted Mateski as saying: “This was a job I really wanted and knew I could do. I knew what had happened to me was because of discrimination just as soon as it happened, and I decided not to let it pass.”