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Meat company settles suit over harassment of employee with Asperger's Syndrome

A New York-based meat fabricator and distributor will pay $70,000 to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation suit brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced June 18, 2008. The EEOC claimed that London Manhattan Corp unlawfully subjected an employee to a hostile work environment because of his Asperger's Syndrome and then fired him for complaining.

The harassment included tying the employee with masking tape, putting gel in his hair, littering his work area with pornographic pictures and wrapping his legs with plastic with a meat-wrapping machine, according to the EEOC's lawsuit SDNY, No 07-8249 (LTS) (KNF)). The federal agency also alleged that London Manhattan unlawfully retaliated against the employee by discharging him shortly after he complained about the humiliating treatment.

The lawsuit was resolved by a consent decree signed by Judge Laura Taylor Swain on June 16, 2008 in New York. In addition to paying the victim $70,000, London Manhattan must also take substantial steps to prevent future workplace harassment. The company is required to: post and maintain EEOC remedial notices and posters; provide training to all employees regarding federal laws prohibiting discrimination; and adopt and maintain an antidiscrimination policy and complaint procedure. London Manhattan is also enjoined from discriminating against any individual on the basis of his or her disability and from retaliating against anyone who participated in the EEOC's investigation or litigation of this case.

"Employees with a disability have a legal right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and abuse," said EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "We are very pleased London Manhattan agreed to settle this case without protracted litigation and that it is taking steps to prevent future workplace discrimination," added Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case.

For more information on this and other topics, consult CCH Employment Practices Guide or CCH Labor Relations.

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