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Regional International Sued by EEOC For Firing Employee Who Requested Leave for Surgery

Truck Dealership Refused to Accommodate 'Exceptional' Delivery Driver, Federal Agency Charges

Regional International Corporation, a commercial truck and trailer dealership with locations in Western New York, unlawfully fired an employee after he requested leave for hip replacement surgery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.

The EEOC's lawsuit alleges that, in June 2015, truck parts delivery driver John R. Moore II requested a short leave for surgery to treat hip osteoarthritis that had degenerated to the point of bone-on-bone contact, causing him excruciating pain and difficulty walking, using stairs and sleeping. Instead of accommodating Moore's disability, Regional International fired him, the EEOC said. The same supervisor who, about a month before, had rated Moore's work "Exceptional" and written that he had received "no complaints from customers," told Moore that he was being fired due to alleged customer complaints. This same supervisor later informed the EEOC that disabled people cannot work for Regional International because they would not be able to get the work done.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities, and prohibits employers from discriminating against them.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Regional International Corporation, Civil Action No. 17-cv-06505), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Regional International from discriminating against disabled employees in the future, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other affirmative relief for Moore. The agency's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Liane T. Rice, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Raechel Adams.

"The ADA has protected disabled employees from workplace discrimination since 1990," said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. "It is disturbing that, in 2017, some employers still believe that Americans with disabilities have no place in their workforce."

Kevin Berry, the EEOC's New York District director, added, "If, instead of firing Mr. Moore, Regional International had allowed him to take reasonable leave, they would have kept an 'exceptional' employee and complied with federal law."

The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. .