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Abuse of intellectually disabled leads to $240 million verdict

Standing up for employee rights is a hard thing to do for almost any employee, but for those with intellectual disabilities the road is even harder. This type of disability discrimination takes advantage of a subset of individuals who are even more susceptible to abuse than the average worker.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was recently awarded $240 million in punitive and compensatory damages over a disability discrimination claim. This is the largest jury verdict recorded in the federal agency’s history, but it wasn’t an award earned in celebration. It instead was the result of a fight on behalf of a handful of workers with intellectual disabilities who were subjected to abuse, forced to work in substandard facilities and denied certain benefits.

Evidence was presented by the EEOC that involved some very serious violations of the disabled individuals’ rights. Evidence of both physical and verbal abuse was presented from being called “dumbass” on a regular basis to one individual being handcuffed. In other instances the individual workers were forced to haul heavy weights in punishment.

When the general counsel for the EEOC was interviewed after the verdict was read, David Lopez said that “This historic verdict marks one of the EEOC’s finest moments in its ongoing efforts to combat employment discrimination, especially discrimination against vulnerable and historically undeserved populations.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act was set into law in order to protect the individuals in this case as well as any other worker with a disability whether it is intellectual or physical.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Jury Awards $240 Million for Long-Term Abuse of Workers with Intellectual Disabilities,” May 1, 2013

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