goodwill industries, settle, disability,
Goodwill settled with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $65,000 over a disability discrimination suit. (Photo Credit: Goodwill Store Mike Mozart CC BY 2.0)

Goodwill Industries to Pay $65,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Suit

Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc. touts its hiring of people with disabilities, but recently settled a workplace discrimination lawsuit for $65,000.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought the lawsuit against Goodwill and announced Monday that the two groups had settled. According to the suit, Robin Hawker, who worked in the janitorial program and has a cognitive disability, ultimately ended up being fired because of his limitations. Hawker’s disability made him require additional training and coaching to complete his tasks and understand the rules he had to follow. Instead of extra guidance, he was given written warnings which he was unable to understand. He was eventually let go because he kept making the same mistakes.

Related Story: CEO of Goodwill Raked in Almost $730,000 in Salary While Paying Employees with Disabilities Pennies

The complaint states Hawker’s disability makes it difficult for him to think, speak, interact with others and read. As part of Hawker’s job, he was hired under contract with the City of New York to clean buildings occupied by the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA). He allegedly was never advised on how to interact with HRA employees or clients. He was told only his supervisor — who was not trained on how to work with individuals with disabilities and did not work in the same location as him — could instruct him.

Hawker received a written warning about his conduct around HRA clients and employees after he was moved to clean on a floor of their building where many people were present. He told his supervisor he needed someone to explain the warning to him because he could not read or understand it. Aside from not entering rooms without permission, Hawker received no other guidance, the complaint says.

After another similar incident, he was allegedly given the same lack of feedback. Goodwill moved him to the first floor of the same HRA building, where there were even more people present. Goodwill terminated Hawker’s employment in early 2017 because of another incident. The complaint states that Goodwill knew about Hawker’s disability and limitations upon his hiring and repeatedly did not offer him the accommodations he required.

Goodwill’s alleged behavior violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which states any employer aware of an employee’s disability and need for accommodation must provide that accommodation unless it presents an undue burden.

Accommodations listed in­clude job coaching, additional training, modifications to operating procedures or other measures that would allow the employee to complete their tasks. The law also requires employers to engage in an interactive process with their employees to determine if there is a way to accommodate the employee’s disability.

“At no point in Hawker’s employment did Defendant engage in an interactive process to attempt to identify an accommodation that would allow Hawker to continue to perform the essential functions of his job,” the lawsuit says.

Under the consent decree settling the case, Goodwill will pay Hawker $65,000 and enact new procedures in its janitorial program. Additionally, under the agreement, Goodwill will provide ADA training to supervisors and report denied requests for reasonable accommodation or complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC.

Related Story: From Goodwill to the Salvation Army: Evaluating the Ethics of some of America’s Best-Known Charities

Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…