Go-Kart Company Refused to Discuss Accommodation for Employee’s Cystic Fibrosis, Federal Agency Charged

SEATTLE – K1 Speed, Inc., a Carlsbad, Calif.-based go-kart racing operation, will provide $50,000 and other relief to settle a federal lawsuit charging that the company refused to accommodate an employee with cystic fibrosis and fired him from its facility in Redmond, Wash., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, when K1 Speed transferred Reuben Young as a supervisor track warden to its indoor go-kart racing facility in Redmond, Wash., he found that the high dust levels at his new work site posed a significant danger to his health. Young has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. The federal agency’s investigation found that although Young attempted several times to tell company officials about his condition and his need for an accommodation in order to do his job, the company representative brushed him off, stating he didn’t care and didn’t want to hear about his “lung thing.” The company eventually fired him. (Two weeks later, K1 Speed renovated the Redmond track, a change that would have allowed Young to work without an accommodation had he not been fired.)

Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as this does not pose an undue hardship on the business. After a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Meiju Ong and first attempting to reach a voluntary agreement, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. K1 Speed, Inc. C09-0148-RAJ) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Under a consent decree filed with the federal court, K1 Speed agreed to pay Young $50,000 and to provide training for all managers, supervisors and employees on preventing disability discrimination and handling requests for accommodation. The company also agreed to establish policies and procedures to address requests for accommodation, and to provide various reports to the EEOC over a two-year period.

“Mr. Young had proven his ability to do the job, and K1 speed could have found a simple and inexpensive solution by providing a temporary transfer to a desk job or use of a dust mask while working,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “The company’s blatant violation of the law ended up costing them much more.”

Young said, “I hope this settlement encourages an end to workplace discrimination. I hope K1 and other companies will treat all their employees with respect.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “K1 Speed’s deliberate refusal to learn about Reuben Young’s condition is exactly what the ADA tells us is unacceptable in today’s workplace. Cystic fibrosis affects over 30,000 Americans and is one of many disabilities employers can easily accommodate without hardship.”

According to its website, www.k1speed.com , K1 Speed is a leader in indoor electric go-kart racing, with five locations in Irvine, Anaheim, Ontario and Carlsbad, Calif., and Redmond, Wash.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.