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Disability Discrimination At The EEOC

Mary Bullock was an administrative law judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) until 2007. She also suffered from multiple sclerosis. She sued the EEOC in 2006 claiming that the agency tasked with protecting employee rights failed to accommodate her disability as required by the Rehabilitation Act and that the agency retaliated against her after she filed her complaint alleging disability discrimination.

An internal complaint process at the EEOC resulted in a finding that Bullock was unable to perform her job duties, even with a reasonable accommodation, so she was not entitled to protection under the Rehabilitation Act. The judge in her case did find, however, that the EEOC wrongfully retaliated against her for filing her disability discrimination complaint.

Bullock was not allowed a flexible work schedule to allow her to work from home, tighter deadlines were set for her than for other ALJs and she was passed over for promotion because of her disability, according to her own complaint against the EEOC.

After filing a lawsuit regarding the disability discrimination, a federal district judge dismissed Bullock's case for failing to complete the agency complaint process. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reinstated her disability discrimination lawsuit against the EEOC, holding that because an ALJ had ruled on her case, the 180-day waiting period to file suit did not apply.

The irony in this lawsuit is that the EEOC is the federal agency tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws that offer employees protection from discrimination based on a protected trait, such as a disability, race, ethnicity, gender, age and others.

Source: Huffington Post, "Mary Bullock's Discrimination Lawsuit Against Anti-Discrimination Agency Most Ironic Lawsuit Ever?," July 31, 2012

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