Rachel Konieczny//September 18, 2023
//September 18, 2023
A Baltimore-area car dealership allegedly violated federal law by demoting and later discharging an employee because of her disabilities, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, claims that Len Stoler Auto Group of Owings Mills violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 when the car dealership allegedly demoted an employee, denied that employee an accommodation request, and later discharged the worker based on her disability.
The EEOC requested a permanent injunction enjoining the car dealership from engaging in any discriminatory employment practice based on disability, as well as back pay for the employee with prejudgment interest and compensation for past and future losses. The complaint also requests a jury trial.
A spokesperson for Len Stoler Auto Group declined comment.
In June 2019, the car dealership’s employee was critically injured in a motorcycle accident and remained in a coma for several weeks following the accident, the complaint details. As a result of the accident, the employee sustained damage to her brain, respiratory, musculoskeletal and neurological functions and was unable to speak, walk, care for herself and engage in other activities without assistance, the complaint said.
The complaint alleges that upon learning the employee had emerged from her coma, the car dealership “immediately cleared out her workspace, believing that she no longer would be able to perform this job because of her impairments.”
In November 2019, while continuing physical, occupational and speech therapy, the employee returned to work and remained “substantially impaired” in her ability to speak, walk and care for herself, according to the complaint. The car dealership then informed the employee that it would permit her to work as a cashier at a less busy dealership, citing concerns about her speech and energy, which paid less than half her salary as a service adviser.
The complaint alleges that the car dealership failed to engage in discussions with the employee about whether she could perform her job with or without reasonable accommodation and did not permit a trial period to demonstrate her ability to do so.
The employee also requested a parking spot for disabled parking at the car dealership’s facility, which the dealership refused, according to the complaint.
In January 2020, Len Stoler Auto Group discharged the employee. At the time of her discharge, the employee “was successfully performing the duties of Cashier,” according to the complaint.
“The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified disabled workers based on unfounded stereotypes, fears, and assumptions about those workers’ ability to perform their jobs,” EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence said in a news release. “The Commission will hold employers accountable for such conduct.”s