The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced it filed a lawsuit in federal court against Maximum Security NYC, Inc., alleging disability and age discrimination. While the employment watchdog has broad enforcement powers, employees in New York also have strong legal protections under state and city laws. If you have suffered discrimination in your workplace, talk to an experienced employment discrimination attorney.
Maximum Security NYC, Inc. is a Queens-based company that provides security and protective services for commercial and residential properties, corporate offices, retail establishments, industrial complexes, and various businesses throughout New York and New Jersey. The company fired one of its employees during the pandemic over concerns about their age and disability.
The EEOC alleges that Maximum Security violated federal law when it denied work assignments and fired a 57-year-old employee based on disability and age. According to the lawsuit, the employee was subjected to discriminatory comments after he returned to work following a heart attack suffered on the job in December 2019.
The employee claims a supervisor said the company did not want him to have another heart attack on the job and that he should retire because of his age and condition. The employee initially continued to work as a fire safety director. In March 2020, as the pandemic emerged, the company told him to stop due to a lack of work; however, Maximum Security continued to assign work to younger fire safety directors with no disabilities.
The company then asked the employee to resign in August 2020, citing his age, and to avoid another on-the-job heart attack. The employee refused, and Maximum Security fired him. The company’s alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), federal laws that protect employees from discrimination based on disability and age.
The EEOC filed suit in a New York federal court after first attempting to settle the claim through its conciliation process, seeking relief to remedy and prevent disability and age discrimination at Maximum Security.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made employees with disabilities and older employees particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on stereotypes about their ability to work,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “Those stereotypes are not a lawful basis for employment decisions.”
Why This Matters
Federal, state, and local laws forbid disability and age discrimination; however, wrongful termination claims based on age and disability discrimination have become increasingly common in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the ADA and ADEA, aggrieved employees must file a charge (a complaint) with the EEOC before pursuing a lawsuit. However, employees in New York have stronger legal protections under the state and city human rights laws because they cover most employers and do not require claimants to file an administrative complaint before filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. While the resolution of the EEOC’s lawsuit against Maximum Security is uncertain, the parties may settle before trial. In the meantime, if you have been the victim of age and disability discrimination, contact an experienced employment lawyer.