Can a one-armed security guard be effective? A jury recently found for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who sued an employer for unlawfully discriminating against a licensed security guard who lost his right arm in a car accident. The employee, Alberto Tarud-Saieh, was removed from his post because of a customer complaint about his disability.
In fact, it was the president of a community association that stated, “This company is a joke. You sent me a one-armed security guard.” The company responded by removing Tarud-Saieh from his post and not reassigning him to another post, thus terminating his employment.
Treating a disabled individual based on customer preferences, stereotypes, and assumptions as to what the employee can and cannot do is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Instead, a disabled individual should have the opportunity to be considered based upon their actual abilities to perform the job. Tarud-Saieh was awarded $35,922. Besides the award to their former employee, the company must also engage in training and implementing anti-discrimination employment policies.
This is a good example of how sound policies and the importance of employee training can go a long way to protect your company from charges of discrimination. Training managers to understand what constitutes discrimination under the ADA is vital to ensure an equal employment opportunity for all.
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