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EEOC reaches $31,000 settlement with Laurel company

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a reached a $31,000 settlement with Protocall Communications Inc. to resolve claims that the Laurel-based marketing company discriminated against an employee with dyslexia, the federal agency announced Tuesday.

Protocall Communications brought in the employee for a three-day training program, which included reading a script. The trainer was concerned about the employee’s ability to read the script with a learning disability, the EEOC alleged in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

The employee disclosed to the training and human resources directors that she had dyslexia, the lawsuit states. The human resources director responded that the company “(did not) want to set (her) up for failure” and that there was no point in the employee’s completing the training, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in August.

The employee asked if she could take the script home to practice, but Protocall allegedly refused the request and fired her, the lawsuit states.

The EEOC claims Protocall violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which does not allow employers to discriminate based on disability and instead requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to providing monetary relief to the former employee, Protocall entered a two-year consent decree to resolve the suit. The agreement prohibits Protocall from denying reasonable accommodations or violating the ADA. The company will also distribute its policies and procedures prohibiting disability discrimination and addressing reasonable accommodations to all employees and newly hired employees and will train all managers, supervisors and human resources personnel on the ADA and its reasonable accommodation requirements. Protocall will also provide reports to the EEOC on how it handles internal discrimination complaints and will post a notice about the settlement that is required by EEOC regulations, the agency said in a news release.

“We commend Protocall Communications for working with us to resolve this matter quickly and amicably. The settlement not only compensates the employee for her lost wages and damages, but also contains substantial equitable relief to protect all applicants and employees from disability discrimination,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a news release.

Protocall could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The case is EEOC v. Protocall Communications, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:18-cv-02535.


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