McDonald’s Worker Fired Because of Autism Spectrum Disorder,
Federal Agency Charges
PHILADELPHIA — JDKD Enterprises, L.P., a Sewell, New Jersey limited partnership that owns and operates numerous McDonald’s franchises in New Jersey, will pay $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, JDKD Enterprises fired an employee who worked at several McDonald’s restaurants for 37 years because of his autism spectrum disorder. The employee’s performance remained excellent throughout his decade-long employment at the Deptford, New Jersey McDonald’s, receiving numerous awards and accolades acknowledging his excellent job performance. However, two months after JDKD Enterprises, L.P., assumed ownership of this McDonald’s, it abruptly terminated the grill cook.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions based on an individual’s disability or need for accommodations. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-16441) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to providing the former employee $100,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides for systemic relief intended to prevent further disability discrimination, periodic reporting to the EEOC, and training for all management personnel in responding to reasonable accommodation requests.
“The ADA protects people with autism spectrum disorder, and the EEOC is absolutely committed to aggressively enforcing the ADA requirement that employers reasonably accommodate their workers with disabilities absent undue hardship,” said Debra Lawrence, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie Williamson added, “Ensuring that all employees, especially management, are properly trained regarding their obligations under the ADA – including their duty to engage in good faith, diligent communications with their disabled employees about accommodation needs – is a smart business practice and the right thing to do. Leadership means stewardship of an organization’s most valuable asset – its people.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.