Retirement Community Company Fired Director Who Opposed Disability Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE – Erickson Living Management, LLC, a Catonsville, Md.-based company which builds and manages retirement communities in 11 states, violated federal law when it fired a director because she opposed perceived disability-based discrimination against her subordinate, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the suit, Erickson Living’s director of health services, talent development and global programs complained to a human resources representative that the company had mistreated a subordinate employee because of manifestations of the employee’s disabilities. The director also expressed concerns that she would be retaliated against for reporting what she believed was a discriminatory abuse of the company’s performance management system, the EEOC said. Shortly after making her report, Erickson Living terminated the director and her subordinate employee as part of a purported company restructuring. The EEOC charged that the alleged restructuring was a mere pretext for a retaliatory motive.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits emp­loyers from retaliating against employees for opposing workplace discrimination or because they filed a charge with the EEOC.The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Erickson Living Management, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00585-CCB) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“The protections against retaliation are vital to our enforcement of civil rights laws,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Retaliation can deter victims and witnesses from reporting work¬≠place discrimination, which impermissibly interferes with our mission.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “The EEOC is committed to protecting employees from unlawful retaliation. This case should remind all employers to investigate internal complaints of discrimination and not retaliate against those brave enough to oppose perceived discrimination.”

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC advances equal opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.