Norman Newton was actively recruited by Hertz for a sales position after they had spotted his resume online. Newton had over 10 years experience in car sales and Hertz appeared enthusiastic about scheduling him for an interview. When he got there, however, the manager who interviewed him expressed reservations about the fact that he required a cane to walk. Newton was passed up for the job and Hertz ended up hiring two individuals who possessed significantly less experience at the position. That included one individual that had no car sales experience at all.
The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of Newton alleging that Hertz discriminated against Newton due to his disability. As a result, Newton was awarded $45,000, a written apology, and a promise that Hertz will review its hiring process so that mistakes like this are not made again.
Discrimination Based on Disability
Individuals with disabilities are protected by both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act. Although the court case mentioned above occurred in Colorado, it was a clear and obvious case of an individual being denied employment based on the supposed restrictions of a disability. In this instance, it is not precisely clear how a salesperson would be impeded in the practice of his or her trade simply because he or she used a cane. In addition, Mr. Newton had a successful career as a car salesman for 10 years prior to interviewing for the position at Hertz.
In some instances, a company can deny an individual a position that they could not do based on a disability. If, for instance, a blind person were applying for a job as a taxi driver, the company could deny that person the position based on his or her disability. Otherwise, it is a clear case of bias against an individual simply for being disabled.
Proving a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
Making a prima facie case of disability discrimination is sometimes easy, as in the case of Mr. Newton. Other times it can be quite difficult. Prima facie means on its face or at first glance. In other words, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that discrimination occurred. Most of the time, you will not find a manager conducting an interview oblivious enough to comment on an interviewee’s cane and then offer the job to two under-qualified applicants.
So, how does a lawyer go about making the case when the evidence is less substantial?
Firstly, the plaintiff’s lawyer must show that the plaintiff has a disability or that the plaintiff was perceived as having a disability by the employer. Secondly, the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she is both capable of performing the duties expected by the job description and qualified for the position. Lastly, the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she was not offered the position based on the disability.
Have You Been Discriminated Against Due to Disability?
If so, HKM Employment Law of Kansas City has handled numerous such cases and secured excellent settlements and verdicts for our clients. Give us a call at 816.607.4691, and we will begin discussing your case immediately.