The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against a car dealership that fired an almost 18-year employee who had undergone bypass heart surgery.
The dealership’s attorney denies the charges.
The EEOC said in the days leading up to the employee’s return from a brief medical leave after she underwent the surgery, the owner of Amarillo, Texas-based Pet’s Car Smart Inc. told the employee, who was 68, that she needed to retire or would be fired because he did not feel she could do her job any longer.
The EEOC said also that prior to her termination, the owner made remarks about her age, including comments about her hair color and that she had “old-timer’s disease” as well as making derogatory comments about her health and physical agility.
She had served as the dealership’s chief financial officer/controller/office manager, according to the lawsuit, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs. Pete’s Car Smart Inc., which was filed in U.S. District Court in Amarillo.
The company was charged with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age in Discrimination Act.
The agency is seeking back–pay damages, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive remedies, including an order prohibiting the employer from engaging in discriminatory treatment in the future.
The dealership’s attorney, Shawn D. Twing, a partner with Mullin Hoard & Brown LLP in Amarillo, said in a statement, “We deny the allegations which we believe are not supported by the facts and our client intends to vigorously defend itself.”