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Court of Appeals Upholds Verdict for EEOC against Service Temps / Smith Personnel Solutions

PRESS RELEASE
5-10-12

Court of Appeals Upholds Verdict for EEOC against Service Temps / Smith
Personnel Solutions

Federal Agency Successfully Fights Barriers to Employment of Qualified
Deaf Applicant

DALLAS — In a ruling issued April 26, a three-judge panel of the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has affirmed a jury’s verdict
in favor of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
disability discrimination lawsuit against Service Temps, Inc. doing
business as Smith Personnel Solutions, the federal agency announced
today.

The EEOC had charged in its suit (EEOC v. Service Temps, Inc. d/b/a
Smith Personnel Solutions, Case No. 3:08-cv-01552, U.S. District Court
for the Northern District of Texas), that Service Temps refused to
hire Jacquelyn Moncada for a stock clerk position, despite her
qualifications and experience, upon learning that Moncada is deaf.
Through a sign language interpreter, Moncada attempted to explain to
the company that she was fully capable of performing the job and that
she had several years of stock clerk experience. The company refused to
conduct an interview or consider Moncada for the position. A Service
Temps manager explicitly told Moncada that she would not be hired
because she could not hear.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability
discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations
to employees’ and applicants’ disabilities as long as this does not
pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to
reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On Sept. 22, 2010, a Dallas jury of three women and seven men returned
a verdict against the employer, finding that the company had violated
the ADA by refusing to hire Moncada because of her disability. The
jury awarded Moncada money damages for lost wages and emotional harm
and an additional amount in punitive damages.

After the verdict was rendered, EEOC moved for an injunction against
Smith Personnel to prohibit the company from discriminating on the
basis of disability. On Jan. 11, 2011, the district court entered an
order awarding Moncada $103,200, plus interest, in damages for lost
wages, emotional harm and punitive damages. The district court also
granted EEOC’s motion for an injunction, ordering that Smith Personnel
be prohibited from discriminating against persons who are disabled,
regarded as disabled, or having a record of a disability. Smith
Personnel subsequently appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

On April 26, 2012, the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling rejecting all of
Smith Personnel’s arguments on appeal. The Fifth Circuit Court adopted
the arguments and analysis forwarded by EEOC’s appellate attorney,
Christine J. Back. The higher court rejected the company’s arguments
and concluded that misapplication of a claimed company policy by one
of its employees is not necessarily a bar to finding that an employee
acted within the scope of his employment.

The Fifth Circuit further noted that EEOC had presented evidence at
trial demonstrating that Smith Personnel’s manager, who had hiring
authority, was employed in a managerial capacity and acted within the
scope of his employment when he did not allow Moncada to apply for a
job, even if that act purportedly violated company policy.

“Jacquelyn Moncada demonstrated a great deal courage by coming forward
to report what happened to her,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel
Clark, one of the EEOC attorneys who tried the case to the jury along
with Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne Anderson. “We hope the jury’s
verdict and the Fifth Circuit’s support of it will play a part in
breaking down the barriers that deaf applicants face in applying for
employment.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino added, “The Fifth Circuit’s
decision acknowledges the diligent work of the jury at this trial.
Justice was done. We are very pleased that Ms. Moncada can now close
this chapter in her life and move forward.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at
http://www.eeoc.gov

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