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Are Job Applicants Protected From Retaliation When Making A Discrimination Complaint Against A Prospective Employer?

Whistleblower protection act book at the library.

Having represented retaliation victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida lawyers for retaliation victims know that a common employment law myth is that job applicants are not protected from retaliation by a prospective employer. However, the federal employment laws contain anti-retaliation provisions that protect both employees and applicants for employment from retaliation when they complain about perceived unlawful employment discrimination, including perceived discrimination by a prospective employer. In this article, our Ocala, Florida attorneys for retaliation victims explain how a recent retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that job applicants are protected from retaliation by a prospective employer.

In a press release issued on March 12, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Carefree/Scott Fetzer Company, doing business as Carefree of Colorado (Carefree). On September 5, 2019, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C v. Carefree/Scott Fetzer Company, Case No. 1:19-cv-02530, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. In the Consent Decree, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore on March 11, 2021, Carefree agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve the disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

Retaliation Victims’ Rights

The EEOC filed the disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of an individual who applied for employment with Carefree, Anna Biryukova (Biryukova). Under the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and applicants for employment on the basis of disability. The ADA also mandates that employers reasonably accommodate disabled employees and applicants for employment. Under the ADA, employers are also forbidden from retaliating against employees and job applicants who lodge disability discrimination complaints.

The EEOC alleges that Carefree discriminated against Biryukova by failing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability and failing to hire her because of her disability in violation of the ADA. The EEOC further alleges that Carefree violated the ADA by failing to hire Biryukova because she and a third party acting on her behalf complained about disability discrimination.

Alleged Discriminatory Failure To Hire

Carefree manufactures and sells shade products for RV’s, including RV awnings. Biryukova, who is deaf, is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA. A man named Clark is an independent job developer who contracts with the State of Colorado to provide assistance and employment services for job seekers with hearing impairments. In 2016, Biryukova was Clark’s client.

On August 22, 2016, Biryukova emailed her resume to Carefree and expressed an interest in the positions of assembler, packing, and sewing operations. That same day, a human resources assistant for Carefree, Pravecek, invited Biryukova to come to Carefree’s office to fill out an application and interview. Biryukova forwarded this invitation to Clark. Shortly thereafter, Clark called Pravecek to schedule an interview. Clark told Pravecek that Biryukova would need a sign language interpreter for the interview because Biryukova is hearing impaired. Clark also told Pravecek that an interpreter would be provided at no cost to Carefree. Pravecek told Clark that Biryukova could not work for Carefree because she is deaf. Pravecek then hung up on Clark.

Job Applicant Makes Discrimination Complaint

On August 26, 2016, Pravecek sent Biryukova an email telling her there were no job openings. That same day, Clark called Pravecek regarding her email. Clark told Pravecek that Carefree was discriminating against Biryukova because of her hearing impairment. By making this remark, according to the EEOC, Clark opposed disability-related discrimination on behalf of Biryukova. Eventually, Pravecek agreed to have Biryukova come in for an interview.

On August 31, 2016, Biryukova came to Carefree’s office for an interview. Biryukova was accompanied by Clark and a sign language interpreter. Clark requested during the interview that Biryukova be allowed to have a sign language interpreter present for the first ninety days of her potential employment with Carefree for training purposes. By doing so, according to the EEOC, Clark requested an accommodation on Biryukova’s behalf. At the end of the interview, Pravecek said, “we have other applicants to consider.” Carefree did not hire Biryukova for any position at Carefree.

Attorneys Fighting For Retaliation Victims

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As part of its statutory mission of eliminating discriminatory employment practices from the American workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of discrimination and retaliation victims, including job applicants who have been denied employment for a discriminatory or retaliatory reason.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on March 12, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, Mary Jo O’Neill, explained that “employers are responsible for preventing and remedying discrimination against job applicants, and are prohibited from retaliating against people who oppose such discrimination.” “Preventing discrimination against deaf job applicants is particularly,” Ms. O’Neill added, “because of the underemployment of hearing-impaired individuals.” In commenting on the lawsuit, the Director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, Amy Burkholder, stated that “there are many negative stereotypes against workers with disabilities and unjustified assumptions that they may not able to perform in the workplace.” “The ADA was passed,” Ms. Burkholder observed, “to address those stereotypes.”

Lawyers For Retaliation Victims In Ocala, FL

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida attorneys for retaliation victims have fought for the rights of employees victimized by retaliation for more than two decades. If you have been retaliated against for complaining about discriminatory employment practices or have questions about rights as a victim of workplace retaliation, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida lawyers for retaliation victims. Our employment and labor law attorneys take retaliation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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