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Justice Department Settles with Spencer East Brookfield Regional School District

Justice Department Settles with Spencer East Brookfield Regional School District to Resolve Disability Discrimination Complaint

(STL.News) – The Justice Department reached an agreement with Spencer East Brookfield Regional School District in Spencer, Mass. to resolve the Department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Justice Department’s complaint alleged that the school district terminated a paraprofessional with knee and shoulder impairments on the basis of her disability after 16 years of employment.  The school district denied the employee’s reasonable accommodation request that, due to her physical limitations, would have excused her from a new policy requiring paraprofessionals to be trained to physically restrain school children and be available to perform restraints.

Under the agreement, the school district will revise its policies to ensure compliance with the ADA, train staff on the ADA, and file periodic reports with the Justice Department on implementation of the agreement.  The school district will also pay $85,699 in back pay and compensatory damages to its former employee.  This matter was based on a referral from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Massachusetts District Office.

“Even as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this case shows that barriers to equal employment opportunity still exist for employees with disabilities,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “ Public employers must be leaders in prohibiting discrimination in public sector jobs and ensuring a fair workplace.”

“Work provides more than just a paycheck: it provides a sense of purpose, dignity, independence, self-worth, and belonging,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband.  “Without reasonable accommodations for their jobs, many people with disabilities cannot work and, as a result, are unable to achieve economic self-sufficiency and full participation in the workforce.  As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, the Civil Rights Division renews its commitment to ensuring that all individuals have an equal opportunity to work free from discrimination based on disability.”

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. The Justice Department will continue to use its enforcement and technical assistance tools to eliminate unlawful discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

U.S. Attorney Lelling and AAG Dreiband made the announcement today. The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Torey Cummings of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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