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EEOC files suit against Jessup warehouse operator

A national logistics company with multiple Maryland locations is facing a federal employment discrimination lawsuit after allegedly failing to make accommodations for a deaf job applicant.

Georgia-based Capstone Logistics LLC “engaged in unlawful employment practices” when the manager at a warehouse in Jessup postponed interviews with George Harris before telling him the company could not hire him, according to the lawsuit filed Monday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“This case should send a strong message to all employers that they must make hiring decisions based on the applicant’s qualifications, not speculation about his disability,” Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, said in a prepared statement.

Harris applied for a warehouse position in November 2015 and received an email six months later to schedule an interview, according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. When Harris arrived for his interview, it was cancelled and he was told it would be rescheduled so the human resources department could arrange for an interpreter.

Two weeks later, Harris received a text message informing him the company had determined “there is no job that we can offer that would be safe” because of the equipment and traffic in work areas and the importance of being able to hear horns and moving equipment.

“At no time did Defendant discuss with Harris his ability to perform any of the essential functions of a warehouse position, with or without reasonable accommodation,” the lawsuit alleges.

Capstone’s alleged conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a news release announcing the lawsuit. Employers are required to undertake a “rigorous assessment” of whether a disabled employee poses a safety threat.

“Mr. Harris was qualified for the warehouse laborer position but Capstone refused to communicate with him about his ability to do the job let alone explore possible reasonable accommodations that would address any purported safety concerns,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in the release.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing Capstone from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates based on disability, institute policies to provide equal opportunities and prevent disability discrimination, and compensate Harris.

Counsel for Capstone did not respond to a request for comment.

The case is U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Capstone Logistics LLC, 1:17-cv-01980-ELH.

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