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Anti-discrimination agency accused of workplace discrimination

Maryland residents may be surprised to learn that the very agency that is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prevent workplace discrimination is being accused of discriminating against one of its employees because of her disability.

A woman who used to work as an administrative law judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has accused the commission of discriminating against her because of her multiple sclerosis.

The woman first filed a complaint back in 2006, alleging that the EEOC violated the Rehabilitation Act, a federal law that specifically protects workers at federally-funded firms from being discriminated against because of a disability. Those who work in the private sector are similarly protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The woman first filed an internal complaint while she was still with the EEOC, stating that the agency ignored her requests for accommodations needed to perform her job and discriminated against her because of her multiple sclerosis.

She was later discharged from her position, which she said was in retaliation for her discrimination complaint.

According to her complaint, the EEOC not only refused to allow accommodations such as the option to work from home, but it also denied promotions to the woman and imposed deadlines that were stricter than those her non-disabled colleagues faced.

A judge in an internal ruling did find that the EEOC retaliated against the woman after she filed the complaint. However, that judge also found she did not qualify for certain protections under the Rehabilitation Act as she would not be able to perform her duties with the accommodations she requested.

The case is now being revived by an appeals court.

This case shows us that even the most unsuspecting employers may be guilty of fostering workplace discrimination.

Source: Huffington Post, "Mary Bullock Discrimination Lawsuit Against Anti-Discrimination Agency Most Ironic Lawsuit Ever?" July 31, 2012

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