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Special Needs Provider Sued For Disability Discrimination

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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.

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. YOYOYO says:

    OUTRAGEOUS> I also have little use of one hand – and I worked as a nurse at the VA on adult men psychiatric patients – much lifting or at least moving necessary – there is always ways to move a person and most people with limited use of a limb know how to compensate. Bah humbug. Sue their shirts off!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Wow, I’m speechless. Perhaps the Regional Center should consider revoking Pace Solano’s vendorization.

  3. vmgillen says:

    Yeah – and the biggest violators of labor laws (at least in NYS, last I checked) are unions…..

  4. Liz says:

    Regrettably California disability programs can discriminate about who they employ or serve in special day programs. Regional Centers, who vendor the programs, seem to be complicit is allowing this to happen.
    It is not uncommon. My son has nut allergies and is medically fragile. No day program will serve him, or transport him because of the liability issues. Finally someone is taking them to court. Good for her.

  5. Cathy says:

    Why am I not surprised? This is simply another manifestation of the “them vs us” way of thinking. I am sorry to say it but some professionals who work with people who have disabilities are bolstering their own need to feel better about themselves by insisting that those they serve are less than they are. Add to that a little power and control and you end up with stupid decisions such as this. Blaming possible risk and insurance companies is a convenient excuse. I placed two people with schizophrenia working as paid staff in a group home for people with mental illnesses over 10 years ago. We have a strong peer counseling focus in our state now. These programs add beef at a lower cost to service systems assisting people with mental illness. Welcome to our past and your future California. It is time to let go of “them” and join “us”!!!!!

  6. KA101 says:

    On behalf of the EEOC, state/local Human Relations Commissions, and private attorneys with civil-rights practices:

    THANK YOU to whoever it was at Pace Solano who disclosed the anti-disability bias. Smoking-gun evidence like that is notoriously difficult to come by. Its availability here almost certainly helped the EEOC decide to prosecute this one itself. You did the right thing, discloser. Much appreciated.

  7. Fired From Pace with Disability says:

    HELP!!!!! Myself and another person are going through something si,ilar to this with PACE SOLANO. We need to get in contact with Ms. Holly and her attorney. I know we can help her case and she could quite possibly help us. PACE SOLANO is out of control.

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