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Alia Corp. To Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Franchisee Demoted a Supervisor with Intellectual Disability to Janitorial Position & Forced Him to Resign Due to Disability, Alleged Federal Agency

Alia Corporation, a franchisee with over 20 fast-food chain restaurants throughout Central California, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC originally filed suit against the Merced, Calif.-based company in 2011 on behalf of Derrick Morgan, a former floor supervisor with an intellectual disability (EEOC v. Alia Corporation, Case No. 1:11-cv-01549-LJO-BAM, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California). Morgan was known to be a good employee and promoted by previous management from crew member to super­visor in 2008. The EEOC contends that once Alia took over, Alia management demoted Morgan to a janitorial position, cut his hours and reduced his hourly wages, thereby forcing him to find other employment and resign by June 2009. The EEOC's lawsuit argued that Alia Corporation thus engaged in disability discrimination that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

As part of the settlement, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree requiring Alia to hire an equal employment opportunity (EEO) monitor to create anti-discrimination policies and procedures; a complaint process and impartial investigations; a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints; a system to hold employees accountable for discrimination; and, annual live disability discrimination training for all management and human resources employees. The $100,000 in monetary relief shall be paid entirely to Morgan. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.

"Employers cannot allow biases and stereotypes to factor into employment decisions," said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which includes Fresno in its jurisdiction. "The EEOC commends Alia Corporation for today's settlement, as it marks a new path for Alia -- one which includes equal employment opportunity for all of their employees, regardless of disabilities."

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno Local Office, said, "Disability discrimination charges are on the rise in California, comprising 30% of all charges filed. Workers who are unjustly penalized due to their disabilities have protections under federal law, and the EEOC is here to help."

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.