Papa Johns will pay $175,000 to settle a disability discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced Nov. 20.
According to the lawsuit, filed in March in a Georgia district court, a worker with vision impairments was hired to work at an Athens, Georgia, location of the pizza chain. While he informed the store manager of his need for the service dog to get to work — and was told the accommodation would not present an issue — his request was later denied before he worked any shifts, according to court documents.
In addition to paying the worker $175,000 in monetary damages, Papa Johns will train its employees on the Americans with Disabilities Act, review its employment policies and allow the EEOC to monitor its discrimination and retaliation complaints, according to the consent decree.
Employers that deny service animal accommodations sometimes find themselves at the center of discrimination lawsuits, and experts have noted the high legal bar for denying such an accommodation.
Recently, however, one such case did pass legal muster when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court upheld a lower court’s decision that a medical center did not need to allow a service dog that caused allergic reactions for a patient and co-worker. In that case, the court determined the employer reasonably decided the dog posed a “direct threat,” and that measures necessary to mitigate the risk of allergens were not reasonable.