A Florida-based security company removed Alberto Tarud-Saieh from his $8-an-hour security position, just days after starting the post, due to a client complaint. Specifically, the president of the community association where the officer was stationed called the company and stated, “The company is a joke. You sent me a one-armed security guard.” Tarud-Saieh had previously lost an arm in a car accident.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued, and a jury found that the company violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for making an employment decision based on the client’s discriminatory stereotype. The jury awarded the officer nearly $36,000, and the EEOC is still pursuing an injunction and other equitable relief including court-mandated training. This decision is a good reminder that employers cannot blindly follow client directives in making employment decisions: a client’s unlawful bias (or uninformed stereotype) will taint the employer’s decision, exposing the employer (not the client) to discrimination claims.