FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1997

CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES NEW MEXICO TOWN FOR RETALIATING AGAINST FORMER EMPLOYEE WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today the Justice Department sued a New Mexico town for allegedly retaliating against an employee because he obtained a favorable settlement in a lawsuit charging the town with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Today's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, alleged that the town of Tatum refused to allow Marvin Lyon to continue employment as a town emergency medical technician (EMT) because he had brought a past disability discrimination suit. In 1993 Lyon sued the town after it terminated him from his job at the police department following heart surgery, even though he was qualified and able to work. Today's case if the first filed by the Department under the ADA alleging retaliation. "The Department is committed to protecting the right of individuals to raise legitimate concerns about discrimination in the workplace without fear of reprisal," said Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. In early 1993, after Lyon underwent successful heart bypass surgery, his doctor recommended he work at a less physically intensive job. Lyon, who had been employed as a police officer, applied for the vacant position of police dispatcher. Although he met all of the qualifications, the town declined to hire him for the position, and instead terminated him from the department. He filed suit alleging that the town failed to reasonably accommodate him as required by the ADA. Lyon secured full-time employment elsewhere and eventually landed a part-time position with the town as an emergency medical technician to supplement his income. In February 1995, after beginning work as an EMT, Lyon's lawsuit against the town was settled by the town's insurance carrier and included a monetary payment. Soon after, town officials began to retaliate against Lyon and told him he could no longer work as an EMT without giving him a reason. In November 1995, Lyon filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing Tatum of retaliating against him in violation of the ADA. The EEOC's investigation supported his claim and referred the matter to the Justice Department. Following its own investigation, the Department informed the town of its violation and attempted to

resolve the dispute through negotiations before filing suit. The complaint seeks a court order requiring the town to rehire Lyon for his former position of emergency medical technician, provide him back pay and compensate him for any losses. The ADA prohibits public and private employers from taking adverse action against any employee because that employee has asserted rights under the law. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the Department's toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301, (800) 514-0383 (TDD) or access the ADA Home Page on the World Wide Web at [http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm]. # # # 97-384