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EEOC Claims Employee Was Wrongfully Fired Because Of His Mental Disability

Disability Law Concept

Having litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than two decades, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys know that employees with a mental disability continue to face significant obstacles in their efforts to retain employment. In far too many cases, our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination lawyers have learned, employers terminate employees with a mental disability despite their ability to do the job. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys explain how a disability discrimination lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that federal employment discrimination law protects employees with a mental disability, such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and major depressive disorder, from being fired because of their mental disability.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

On September 2, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against JDKD Enterprises, LP (JDKD), which conducts business as McDonald’s. On September 2, 2021, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C. v. JDKD Enterprises, LP, Case No. 1:21-cv-16441, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey after initially endeavoring to remedy the alleged unlawful employment practices through its statutorily mandated conciliation program.

The EEOC has brought the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of JDKD, a man named Cardone (Cardone). Under the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees with a physical or mental disability. When an employee is fired because of his or her disability, the employee has been wrongfully terminated in violation of the ADA. The ADA also mandates that employers reasonably accommodate employees with a physical or mental disability. Under the ADA, reasonable accommodations include job restructuring, part-time work, and reassignment to an available position.

The EEOC claims that JDKD discriminated Cardone in violation of the ADA by terminating him because of his disability and by not reasonably accommodating him if JDKD believed that he was in need of an accommodation.

EEOC Claims Discriminatory Discharge

The EEOC contends that Cardone is a disabled individual within the meaning of the ADA based on his mental health condition of autism spectrum disorder. The EEOC maintains that Cardone’s autism spectrum disorder is obvious from how he communicates with others and it causes him to have difficulty modulating his voice, and when he becomes agitated, he may speak more loudly, and he may engage in what is known as self-stimulating behavior, including rocking back and forth. The EEOC further contends that the manifestations of Cardone’s autism spectrum disorder were evident throughout his employment with McDonald’s.

Cardone’s employment with McDonald’s began in 1981. In 2008, Cardone began working as a grill cook at the McDonald’s located in Deptford, New Jersey. In March 2018, JDKD became the owner of the McDonald’s in Deptford. After JDKD assumed ownership, Cardone continued his employment with JDKD a a grill cook. Prior to JDKD taking over, Cardone had received numerous awards during his 37-year career with McDonald’s. The EEOC maintains that Cardone’s job performance “remained excellent” after JDKD assumed ownership of the Deptford McDonald’s.

While at work on May 14, 2018, Cardone’s autism spectrum disorder caused him to become agitated and raise his voice. The EEOC contends that to the extent that JDKD believed that Cardone’s job performance or behavior was deficient, JDKD did not engage in an interactive process to address Cardone’s autism spectrum disorder or its manifestations, or to determine whether a reasonable accommodation was available. Instead, JDKD fired Cardone that same day. The EEOC maintains that JDKD fired Cardone because of his autism spectrum disorder in violation of the ADA.

Attorneys For Employees

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for administering, interpreting, and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In order to protect and vindicate employee rights under federal employment discrimination law, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees discriminated against on the basis of disability.

In a press release issued on September 2, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Debra M. Lawrence, noted that Cardone “received awards for excellent job performance during his 37-year career with McDonald’s.” “The only thing that changed,” Ms. Lawrence observed, “was new owners who acted based on his disability, not his demonstrated outstanding job performance.” “The purpose of the ADA,” Ms. Lawrence explained, “is to eliminate employment discrimination for people with disabilities who are qualified to do the job, and that is why we filed this lawsuit.”

Citrus County Wrongful Termination Attorneys

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination lawyers have fought for the rights of wrongful termination victims for more than twenty years. If you have been wrongfully terminated or have questions about your rights as a wrongful termination victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination attorneys. Our employee rights law firm takes wrongful termination 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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