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Pittsburgh-area Olive Garden to pay $30,000 to settle disability discrimination lawsuit

Program gives employment opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities
Program gives employment opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities 02:55

TARENTUM, Pa. (KDKA) -- The operator of an Olive Garden in Tarentum will pay $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a federal agency. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit against GMRI Inc. over the general manager's interview of a person who had a disability and applied for a busser position. 

The general manager asked the applicant several illegal questions about his disability, like what was "wrong with" him and how "bad" the disability was, according to the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged the general manager ended the interview and the restaurant declined to hire him because of his disability and information learned from the illegal questions. 

The agency brought claims against Olive Garden under Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination in employment. The EEOC said it filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process.

The Olive Garden will pay $30,000 to the job applicant and will also have to provide mandatory ADA training to the general manager and other personnel at the Tarentum location. The consent decree was approved by the federal court on Tuesday. 

"Workers with disabilities provide invaluable contributions to their employers and to the American economy when given a fair opportunity to show their job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence in a press release. 

"The EEOC is strongly committed to protecting disabled workers from job discrimination, including illegal disability-related inquiries, which often produce employment decisions rooted in prejudice, implicit bias, unfounded fears or assumptions, or a desire to evade the legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations."

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