AVI Foodsystems charged with disability discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS - Akia Haynes, Deputy Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), issued a Notice of Finding against AVI Food Systems. The charge states that probable cause exists to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice occurred in violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law (Ind. Code § 22-9, et seq.).

By way of background, AVI Food Systems hired Complainant as a delivery driver on or about March 2012. Complainant had a medical condition that prevented him from lifting more than 20 pounds. Complainant states that he alerted AVI Food Systems of his restrictions and refused to perform such tasks because of his impairment. Complainant contends that he was then terminated, without the required interactive dialogue process, because of his disability. Complainant also asserts that similarly-situated African-Americans and women were treated more favorably when they refused to perform various duties associated with their employment. 

Despite being given an opportunity to refute Complainant’s assertions, AVI Food Systems failed to do so. As such, based on the investigation, probable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory practice occurred as alleged.

In order to prevail, Complainant must show that (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he suffered an adverse employment action; (3) he was meeting Respondent’s legitimate business expectations; and (4) similarly-situated female employees, employees of another race, or those without disabilities were treated more favorably under similar circumstances. 

A public hearing is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law occurred as alleged. The parties may agree to have these claims heard in the circuit or superior court in the county in which the alleged discriminatory act occurred. However, both parties must agree to such an election and notify the ICRC within 20 days of receipt of their notice, or the ICRC’s Administrative Law Judge will hear this matter. 

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana.