Riviera Consulting to Pay $100K to Settle Disability Discrimination Suit
A San Jose-based business has agreed to pay $100,000 to a former employee who was fired because of his vision impairment. The company will also implement new policies and training in order to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit.
Farhang Dahmubed was hired as a senior bookkeeper at Riviera Consulting & Management, LLC in 2007. Shortly after disclosing to his employer that he had retinitis pigmentosa - an eye disease which substantially limits one’s ability to see - Mr. Dahmubed was terminated.
With more than 20 years of experience in his field, Mr. Dahmubed was fully qualified to perform the essential functions of his job as a senior bookkeeper. While he had not been informed that driving was one of his job duties prior to disclosing his disease, Mr. Dahmubed’s employer later told him that his vision impairment would make it impossible for him to distribute payroll checks and deliver mail by car and identified this as the reason for his termination.
Both state and federal law require employers to engage in an interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees so that they are able to perform their jobs, and it expressly prohibits terminating a qualified employee because of a disability. When Mr. Dahmubed requested a reasonable accommodation for these newly created job duties related to driving – such as walking or having someone else drive him – he was refused.
Soon after Mr. Dahmubed was terminated, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) helped him file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After finding cause to believe that Mr. Dahmubed had been discriminated against on the basis of his disability, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for Northern District of California against Riviera and associated companies Ali Baba Corporation, Oasis Care, Inc., Sabankaya Select, LLC, and Sabankaya et al. Mr. Dahmubed intervened in the suit and was represented by LAS-ELC.
According to the consent decree settling the suit which was ordered yesterday by Judge Koh, the defendants agree to pay Mr. Dahmubed and his attorneys $100,000. In addition to the monetary relief, the companies agreed to contract with an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to revise their policies and procedures on disability discrimination and the evaluation of reasonable accommodation requests; provide anti-discrimination training to all employees; and provide periodic reports to the EEOC through the duration of the three-year decree.
“I am really glad to know that no one else will experience the same kind of discrimination I did at Rivera, since they have agreed to change their policies,” said Mr. Dahmubed. “I hope my case will encourage other people with disabilities to stand up for their workplace rights.”
“When Riviera refused to accommodate Mr. Dahmubed’s disability and then terminated him because of that disability, it acted in violation of multiple state and federal laws,” said Rachael Langston, Mr. Dahmubed’s attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. “ Mr. Dahmubed was courageous to come forward with his story, and the outcome of his case should send a clear signal to employers across the country that their unlawful treatment of employees with disabilities will not be tolerated.”