NASHVILLE – Celestica Inc., a Canadian electronics manufacturer service company doing business in the United States as Celestica Corporation, will pay $102,100 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on April 8. 2010.
The EEOC’s suit (No. 3:09-0813, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee) had charged that Celestica willfully ignored requests for reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). An employee, hired through a placement agency, worked inside a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., operated by Celestica. She has lupus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiomyopathy. She requested use of her own electric wheelchair to get to her desk inside the warehouse from a handicapped parking space close to the side entrance. Although the placement agency allowed use of the wheelchair, Celestica ignored her requests and acted as if they had never occurred, the EEOC said. She continued working for a few months without any accommodation, but ultimately quit.
Denial of a reasonable accommodation to an otherwise qualified individual with a disability violates Title I of the ADA, unless providing the accommodation would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
Besides providing monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Todd Campbell on April 7, 2010, enjoins Celestica from further refusing or ignoring any request from an individual with a disability for a reasonable accommodation; requires the company to issue its policy regarding reasonable accommodations under the ADA to all employees in the United States; train its site managers and human resources managers on reasonable accommodations; report requests for reasonable accommodations to the EEOC; have the trainer administer a test after the training and review the test results with the trainees; and post notices on the settlement and the ADA.
“Employers cannot simply ignore requests for reasonable accommodations of a qualified individual with a disability,” said Faye A. Williams, the EEOC regional attorney for the Memphis District Office. “Rather, they must take an active role in determining whether the accommodation can be provided or whether it would impose an undue hardship. We are pleased that Celestica joined us in a quick resolution to save all parties time and expense.”
Celestica, Inc., located in Toronto, Canada, is a global provider of services for electronics manufacturers. It has over 38,000 employees worldwide.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
On February 24, 2010 the United States Department of Justice Office announced a settlement of its lawsuit alleging that the owners and developers involved in the design and construction of 21 multifamily housing complexes in Tennessee discriminated on the basis of disability. (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/February/10-crt-198.html)
The complexes, which were built with the assistance of federal low-income housing tax credits, contain more than 800 units covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility provisions along with areas of public accommodation covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Murphy Development LLC and 22 defendants will pay all costs related to making the complexes for which they were responsible accessible to persons with disabilities, pay up to $350,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing, and pay $75,000 to the United States. The settlement requires all the defendants to be trained about the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and to provide periodic reports to the government that they are following the law.
"Equal access to housing for persons with disabilities is an important right protected by both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This comprehensive settlement will ensure that equal housing opportunities required by law are provided in these 21 housing complexes. This will give persons with physical disabilities an equal opportunity to live in and visit these complexes, and provide compensation to those who have been harmed by the builders’ failure to provide accessible housing."
"The United States will work aggressively to guarantee that persons with disabilities have the accessible rental housing to which they are entitled," said Ed Yarbrough, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. "The scope of this settlement and the many apartment complexes that it covers will benefit many Tennesseans with disabilities."
The case began when the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, a private, nonprofit advocacy organization whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination throughout Tennessee, provided the department with information several apartment complexes that were inaccessible to people with disabilities. The department conducted an independent investigation and filed this lawsuit in September 2008.
The defendants responsible for the payments and retrofits are Murphy Development LLC, Westland Development LLC, Meadow Creek LP, Miller Town LP, Swiss Ridge LP, 17th Street LP, Alta Vista LP, Forest View LP, Stonebridge LP, Spring Branch LLC, Delrose Court LP, River View Park LP, Sutherland View Apartments LP, Lyon’s Den LP, Dunhill LLC, Ashton View LLC, West Vista Ridge LLC, Cassell Ridge LP, Cassell View LP, Sutherland Park LP, Azalea Development LLC, The Highlands Apartments LP, and Beason Well LP. The defendants will retrofit the following complexes in Tennessee:
• 17th Street Apartments, 2565 East 17th Avenue, Springfield
• Ashton View Apartments, 169 Barkley Landing Drive, Morristown
• Beason Well Apartments, 893 New Beason Well Road, Kingsport
• Cassell Ridge Apartments, 1230 Cassell Valley Way, Knoxville
• Cassell View Apartments, 1111 Elk Hill Way, Knoxville
• Dunhill Apartments, 1036 Dunhill Way, Knoxville
• Forest View Apartments, 119 Belinda Parkway, Mt. Juliet
• The Highlands Apartments, 2001 South Lyerly Street, Chattanooga
• Lake Side Apartments, 3940 Bell Road, Hermitage
• Lyon’s Den Apartments, 3610 Lyon’s Way, Knoxville
• Meadowcreek Apartments, 919 South Dickerson Road, Goodlettsville
• Miller Town Apartments, 395 Jack Miller Boulevard, Clarksville
• River View Park Apartments, 3300 Holston Hills Road, Knoxville
• Spring Branch Apartments, 1830 Spring Branch Drive, Madison
• Stonebridge Apartments, 100 Stonebridge Way, Columbia
• Sutherland Park Apartments, 510 Vista Glen Way, Knoxville
• Sutherland View Apartments, 3220 Atchley Ridge Way, Knoxville
• Swiss Ridge Apartments, 455 Swiss Avenue, Nashville
• Swiss View Apartments, 499 Swiss Avenue, Nashville
• West Vista Ridge Apartments, 1201 Vista Ridge Way, Knoxville
• White Oak Apartments, 114 Holt Spur Drive, Jamestown
The retrofitting includes modifying walkways to eliminate steps, excess slopes and level changes, providing accessible curb ramps, and providing accessible parking and routes to site amenities, such as clubhouses, pools, mailboxes and trash facilities. The settlement also provides for the replacement of inaccessible knob hardware on doors, the widening of inaccessible narrow doorways, and the reconfiguration of bathrooms and kitchens to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs.
Persons who believe they may have been harmed by the lack of accessible housing at one of the complexes involved in this matter should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 and select menu option 2.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line 1-800-896-7743 or e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com. Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.