Howard University Failed to Hire Applicant Due to His Disability, EEOC Says
Qualified Applicant Denied Job Because Of His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charges
WASHINGTON – Howard University in the District of Columbia violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant for a security position at its hospital because of his disability, diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Howard University, founded in 1862, is a private, historically black university. Howard University Hospital is a division of the University at large and is subject to its employment policies and procedures.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Clarence Muse has Type 2 diabetes that resulted in kidney failure. Around August 16, 2009, Muse applied for two security guard positions with the university. The EEOC said that Muse was interviewed for both positions by Howard’s associate hospital director for support services and its director of protective services. In discussing his shift preference during his interview, Muse disclosed that he needed to work a shift that would allow him to continue to take dialysis treatments three mornings each week. The EEOC charged that despite being fully qualified for the security officer positions, Muse was denied hire for both positions. Muse’s qualifications included over 40 years of experience as a police officer and private security guard, including being a veteran of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. According to the complaint, Howard University continued to solicit applications for the security officer positions after denying Muse hire, and ultimately hired more than 40 security officers.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Howard University, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-01186), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Muse, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief.
“It is unfortunate that many employers still deny work opportunities to qualified people who are ready and able to perform the job simply because of myths and fears about their medical impairments or disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Lynette A. Barnes, of the agency’s Charlotte District, which oversees litigation filed by the agency in Washington, D.C. “This suit should remind employers that the EEOC will continue to prosecute cases where job applicants’ basic rights are alleged to have been violated.”