Worldwide, individuals with disabilities face social barriers and experience discrimination in situations across a broad spectrum of locations on a daily basis. These include opportunities to enjoy public buildings and community events, to participate in athletic events, and access to educational and employment opportunities, among others. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the employment arena, as well as in other key public fields. Title I of the ADA deals specifically with employment, forbidding discrimination in the recruitment, training, hiring, and all other areas of employment. Beyond protection from discrimination, persons with disabilities are similarly protected from sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, just like every other American. That harassment may encompass verbal assaults, pictures, jokes, and physical contact.
When a business entity is involved in the sexual assault of an individual, it is inexcusable. If the person involved has cognitive disabilities to boot, it is utterly reprehensible. That is precisely the situation involving one job training entity in Kern County, California.
Facts of the Case
The organization under investigation was a state-funded job-skills program designed to assist individuals with disabilities. It addressed both life and work skills and focused on developing independent living abilities.
An examination of the complaint indicates that a female patron of this job-training program experienced sexual assault on multiple occasions. These incidents involved her job coach and supervisor and occurred over an extended period of time. Ultimately, the woman reported the distressing events. Following her report of the assault, she was subsequently fired from the training program. As a result, her guardian questioned the termination, and turned to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for assistance.
California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Reacts
The aim of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is to advance and protect the civil rights of Californians with disabilities in all employment scenarios. This includes training programs. A spokesman for the DFEH indicated that any workplace harassment is unacceptable. The complaint underwent required mediation and resulted in a $100,000 payout: $15,000 for attorney’s fees and $85,000 for emotional suffering and lost wages. Additionally, the abuser was fired, and all trainers have undertaken sensitivity training. The organization has been restructured and is obliged to report any complaints that occur within the next three years to the DFEH.
Advocating for You
In the event that you or a loved one endures discrimination or harassment, the experienced attorneys at HKM can help. Our compassionate, yet aggressive legal team will use the law to fight unscrupulous individuals and businesses that might try to take advantage of innocent workers. Contact us in Los Angeles for your confidential consultation.