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EEOC sued Direct Optical, Inc., for disability discrimination due to anxiety

The EEOC filed suit against Direct Optical, Inc., a Michigan eye wear retailer that sells frames and lenses for prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses, for discriminating against optician Laurel Miller, because of her disabilities – generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In its suit, the EEOC alleges that Direct Optical discriminated against Miller when it denied her request to use her service dog at work. The complaint further alleges that Direct Optical fired Miller because of her disability (including for minor performance issues that her service dog could have prevented), in retaliation for her request for accommodation.

This alleged conduct violates Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the EEOC is seeking injunctive relief that would prohibit Direct Optical from discriminating against other employees with disabilities, as well as equitable relief that provides equal opportunities for qualified employees with disabilities. The suit also seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other affirmative relief for Miller.

The ADA prohibits discrimination due to a disabiilty

The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees due to a disability. The statute also affirmatively requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees who are otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of their jobs. The ADA also protects employees who assert their rights from retaliatory action.

EEOC Trial Attorney Lauren Burstein said, “The EEOC works to protect employees with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to perform their jobs. The EEOC’s investigation showed that this employer not only denied Miller’s request for an accommodation, but then fired her – only making a bad situation worse. The EEOC will stand up for the rights of such discrimination victims.”

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