The Department of Justice is suing Metro for alleged discrimination against a job candidate whose offer was rescinded after Metro officials learned that he had epilepsy.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, attorneys for the federal government argued that Metro violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to engage in an “interactive process” to assess whether the man’s medical condition could be accommodated without preventing him from fulfilling his job duties.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said he could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, but said that Metro “is in ongoing discussions with DOJ and it is our expectation that this matter will be resolved amicably in the very near future.”
According to the lawsuit, Maryland resident Bennie Vaughan applied for a job as an elevator and escalator parts supervisor at Metro in May 2013. Less than two weeks after he applied, Metro gave him a provisional offer of employment, pending the results of a medical examination.
Vaughan underwent the exam, and the results were submitted to Metro. One month later, the transit agency rescinded his job offer, the suit alleges.
Vaughan has epilepsy, according to the lawsuit, and occasionally experiences “absence seizures,” which cause him to “cease action and stare uncontrollably for a brief time.”
The Justice Department’s attorneys argued that Vaughan manages his symptoms with medication and “responsible life choices” — and that the occasional seizures would not prevent him from doing the job for which he applied.
“He is a qualified person with a disability who could perform the essential functions of the position, with or without accommodation,” the lawsuit said.
Vaughan submitted multiple written requests to Metro, seeking an answer for why his job offer was rescinded. In November 2013, Metro responded in a letter, informing him that he could not work in that position because he had a seizure disorder. Vaughan filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was later referred to the Justice Department.
Justice Department lawyers want Metro to establish new policies and procedures that would require managers to “discuss essential job functions that might be affected by the applicant’s disability, and how the applicant’s disability might be accommodated.”
The Justice Department is also calling for Metro to retrain its supervisors and medical examiners on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, the lawsuit demands that Metro pay damages to Vaughan as compensation for lost income and benefits, as well as emotional and mental distress.
Vaughan could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stessel said Metro is reviewing its policies on how medical conditions are taken into account during the hiring process.