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Employment litigation: Sony sued for violating ADA

Louisiana residents are likely familiar with Sony's recent problems. However, Sony is in the news again, but this time, it has nothing to do with North Korea. It appears that the electronics and entertainment monolith has agreed to pay $85,000 in a lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The money will be paid under a consent decree that it entered in federal court to end a lawsuit. In the lawsuit, the EEOC accused the company of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, by firing a woman because she was disabled with a prosthetic leg.

According to court documents, the employee was sent by a staffing company to inspect Sony television's facilities. On the employees second day on the job, one of the staffing company's employees that sent her to that location informed her that she would have to leave because concerns were raised about her being either bumped into by other employees or possibly knocked down.

The EEOC investigation unit, upon investigation of the allegations, concluded that the woman was terminated by the staffing agency. Nonetheless, the termination was prompted by Sony management. Thus, they were complicit and equally culpable in the wrongful termination lawsuit.

As part of the consent decree, along with the monetary payment, the company is required, for the next couple of years, to report any and all instances of employee complaints that allege disability discrimination directly to the EEOC. It also prevents Sony from prohibiting the employee from keeping the details of the case confidential. It also states that the company cannot force her to waive her rights to file discrimination charges with other governmental agencies, nor can she be prohibited from pursuing prospects of future employment at Sony or any of its subsidiaries.

The ADA was enacted to provide protection from discrimination for all employees, even when they are short term or temporary employees. This case illustrates that employers can be prosecuted for discrimination even if when they discriminate against contractors and temporary workers. It does not matter if the discrimination is committed directly or through a proxy.

Source: The National Law Review, "Sony to Pay $85,000 under Decree Resolving EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit," Dec. 25, 2014

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