10 January 2024- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that it filed a lawsuit charging Franklin County Jail (the Jail) with violating Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit alleges that the Jail unlawfully terminated a correctional officer whose disability substantially limited her ability to walk, stand, concentrate, and sleep. The correctional officer sought, but was denied, a modification of the Jail’s policy that a probationary employee could only have two unscheduled absences during her probationary period. Although the Jail initially provided the employee an accommodation, it later relied on the absence policy to terminate her.
“Employers must make reasonable accommodations so that employees with disabilities can earn a living,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam. “Lyme Disease creates debilitating health issues for numerous Pennsylvanians yearly, and employers should find reasonable solutions to allow employees with any kind of disability to work and not terminate them because of that disability. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to enforce civil rights laws and ensure equal employment opportunities for all.”
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees; employee compensation; and other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. An employer may not demote, terminate, or deny employment opportunities to an employee who is otherwise qualified if the demotion or termination is based on the need to make reasonable accommodations for the employee.
The U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission, Philadelphia District Office, found that the Jail violated the ADA and referred the matter to the Department of Justice. The United States is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Butler, Civil Rights Coordinator, and Attorney Kimberly Scheckner of the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section.
For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at civilrights.justice.gov/report. Anyone in the Middle District of Pennsylvania may also report civil rights violations to the Civil Rights Coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by calling 717-614-4911 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complaint alleges unlawful conduct, but the United States must still prove that allegation in federal court.