In an unusual twist, a nonprofit that provides services to people with developmental disabilities is being sued for allegedly turning down a job applicant because of her special needs.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charging that Pace Solano — a California disability services provider — violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when the organization withdrew a job offer made to Katrina Holly.
After being offered a position teaching adults with developmental disabilities, Holly took a pre-employment physical exam and was cleared by a doctor to perform the job, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court last week.
However, the EEOC alleges that Pace Solano subsequently declined to hire Holly because she has partial paralysis in one hand, something that she disclosed during the exam.
“When they told me I wasn’t getting the job, I was sure there was some mistake,” Holly said in a statement. “I was shocked to be told that it was because of my disability. Most people are unaware of it, and it didn’t prevent me from doing any of the tasks they tested me on.”
An attorney for Pace Solano told the San Francisco Chronicle that the disability bias charges are unwarranted. He said that Holly was not hired because her ability to lift heavy objects was limited and could pose a safety concern if she was unable to move a client, for example.
Pace Solano serves nearly 400 people with developmental disabilities in Solano County, Calif. through day programs and life skills training, according to its website.
The EEOC is asking for back pay and lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages on Holly’s behalf.