Hagerstown, Ind. restaurant charged with disability discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director Akia Haynes announced today there is probable cause to believe that a former employee of Main Street Diner in Hagerstown, Ind. was wrongfully terminated because of a perceived impairment.

An investigation stemming from the October 30, 2013 Complaint filed with the ICRC found that Complainant was terminated after a rumor about Complainant having a serious medical condition spread throughout the town. The termination occurred despite accounts that Complainant was meeting the employer’s legitimate business expectations.

Respondent’s owner admits that once the rumor began spreading, she immediately terminated Complainant’s employment because the rumor “would destroy [the owner] and [the owner’s] business.” The owner went on to say that it “had a good customer base..and a good reputation and..was not going to lose that.”

While Complainant asserts she does not have the medical condition at issue, there is no evidence to show that Respondent’s owner tried to verify the truth of the rumor, attempted to enter into an interactive dialogue regarding the impairment, or made an attempt to maintain Complainant’s employment.

In order to prevail, Complainant must show that: (1) Complainant has or was perceived to have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) Complainant suffered an adverse employment action; (3) Complainant was meeting Respondent’s legitimate business expectations; and (4) similarly-situated employees without perceived impairment were treated more favorably under similar circumstances.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a Civil Rights Complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.