AT&T to Pay $60,000 for Not Hiring Type 2 Diabetic

Telecommunications giant AT&T Services Inc. will pay a former employee $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to hire an applicant as a cable splicer technician in Austin, Texas, only because of his “insulin use” for type 2 diabetes.

EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. A09CA700SS, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, said the applicant indisputably had the necessary experience and expertise to perform the job, and that he had previously safely performed a similar job for AT&T for many years after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his or her disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled, violates the ADA. EEOC filed suit after its San Antonio Field Office determined that AT&T had violated the ADA and after it tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the Commission’s conciliation process.

As part of the agreed consent decree resolving the suit, AT&T will pay $60,000 to its former employee. AT&T also agreed to comply with the provisions of the ADA and to provide training regarding the ADA to all staffing managers at AT&T’s non-management staffing office located in San Antonio. AT&T further agreed to have these staffing managers review AT&T’s equal employment opportunity policies, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, and to acknowledge, in writing, that insulin treatment for diabetes, in and of itself, does not automatically disqualify an individual from employment.

”Employers who respond to disabled individuals with knee-jerk exclusions based on myths, fears, and stereotypes, rather than considering individual abilities, put themselves at risk,” said senior trial attorney Eduardo Juarez of EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “The ADA protects workers with disabilities from discriminatory treatment including hiring and firing.”

“We are pleased to resolve this case and commend AT&T for acknowledging the importance of preventing discriminatory hiring practices and that every individual deserves a fair chance to obtain a job based on their talent and qualifications, regardless of their disability,” said supervisory trial attorney Judith G. Taylor, also with EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office.

According to company information, Dallas-based AT&T is the largest communications holding company in the world by revenue, with a 2009 reported consolidated revenue of $123 billion and 276,280 employees worldwide.

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