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Major hotel chain settles disability discrimination suit

A major hotel corporation agreed to pay $85,000, provide $15,000 worth of paid leave and offer other relief to a New York employee to settle a discrimination lawsuit, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The employee works at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City as a front desk agent, according to the lawsuit. He suffers from a back impairment that flares up and becomes painful when standing for long periods of time. He requested a chair, which the hotel provided – only to take it away two weeks later, requiring him to stand once again.

The EEOC argued sitting did not prevent the worker from doing his job effectively and that providing him a chair to relieve the back pain was not an “undue burden” on the hotel. By not making a reasonable accommodation, the hotel was violating federal civil rights laws, the EEOC said.

As part of the settlement agreement the employee will get a chair to use on the job, and Hyatt Corporation will pay him $85,000 while providing him six weeks of paid leave. Hyatt will also be required to do additional employee training and inform the EEOC about future accommodation requests.

Discrimination in the hospitality industry

Workers in hospitality may face tough job demands. It could be a server at a busy restaurant, a harried cruise ship entertainer, or a housekeeper tidying room after room during a shift. Companies must follow the same civil rights laws as any other business, including those regulations related to disability discrimination.

The hospitality industry (including hotels and restaurants) was a frequent target of the EEOC in 2015. That year, the commission filed more suits against hospitality businesses than companies in any other industry.

If you have requested an accommodation from your employer and believe you were wrongfully denied, it might be a good time to speak with an employment attorney. They can help you understand the situation, and may be able to determine whether the company might have violated your rights.

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