This past summer, a teenager from the small country of Grenada made history in London when he brought home his country's first Olympic gold medal. Many people in Florida may also fondly remember the scene of sportsmanship involving gold medalist Kirani James the day before. Newspapers all over the world carried a photograph of James swapping his Olympic bib number with double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who made history as the first double leg amputee athlete to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Now turn the page. In 2008, a woman in the Midwest suffered a serious injury in a car accident and ultimately lost her leg. The woman, now 60-years-old, may not have dreamed of competing in the Olympics after being fitted with a prosthetic leg-but she did want to work. She landed a job through a temporary staffing agency in October 2012 to inspect electronics made by an international conglomerate. The staffing agency operates in 30 states, although it does not have any offices in Florida.
She reported to work, and spent a day inspecting Sony televisions. She reportedly did not have any difficulty that first day performing the duties of her job, but her dream of working ended after that first day, according to a recent disability discrimination lawsuit.
Despite her performance on day one, her employment discrimination lawsuit says that she was taken off the job on day two. A worker with the staffing agency reportedly said that the woman was being removed from the electronics inspection assignment because Sony did not want her to continue to work in the facility. The Staffmark agency worker said that they did not want anyone at the facility to bump into her on the job, according to the recent lawsuit.
The woman was told that the agency would reassign her to another temporary staffing assignment, but that never happened. The woman says that she repeated called to ask for a new job assignment.
A federal lawsuit has been filed on the woman's behalf under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A regional attorney for the EEOC in the Midwest says that, "Staffing agencies cannot avoid liability for discrimination by saying they were just following an employer-client's orders, nor can employers avoid liability by saying the victim was 'really employed' by their staffing agency."
The temp agency declined to comment on the pending litigation, according to the Chicago Tribune. A spokesperson for Sony says that that company intends to defend against the lawsuit.
- Chicago Tribune, "EEOC lawsuit alleges woman fired because of prosthetic leg," Ameet Sachdev, Dec. 5, 2012
- EEOC, "EEOC Sues Staffmark and Sony for Disability Discrimination," Dec. 4, 2012
- Yahoo Sports, "Kirani James swaps numbers with Oscar Pistorius after 400 meters semifinal," Jeff Eisenberg, Aug. 5, 2012