Wounded Iraq war veteran wins $100K settlement after being fired by Roto-Rooter

Wounded Iraq war veteran wins $100K settlement after being fired by Roto-Rooter

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A wounded Iraq war veteran fired by Roto-Rooter in Plymouth will receive $100,000 from the company, according to a federal agreement.

In a conciliation agreement signed Friday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Roto-Rooter Services, the company must pay $100,000 to settle disability discrimination charges for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Firing a war veteran for his disabilities incurred serving his country is just plain wrong and clearly violates federal law,” said Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC’s Chicago district. “However, we appreciate that Roto-Rooter worked cooperatively with the EEOC to resolve this charge without having to go through protracted litigation.”

The Army veteran, not identified by the EEOC, had worked for Roto-Rooter before he served multiple tours in Iraq and returned with back, leg and head injuries, Julie Schmid, the agency’s acting director in Minneapolis, said Tuesday.

Some of those injuries occurred while the veteran was guarding David Petraeus, the now-retired four-star general who led U.S. battle strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, Schmid said.

Upon the veteran’s return in 2009, the company refused to place its onetime employee in a job similar to the one he held previously. Schmid said the veteran had risen through the ranks, going from a field employee to a manager in his 10-plus years with Roto-Rooter.

In addition to paying the $100,000, the conciliation agreement requires the company to provide staff training focused on the ADA, make reasonable accommodations in the future, and to report employee requests for reasonable accommodation to the EEOC.

A spokesman at the corporate headquarters in Cincinnati for Roto-Rooter, a nationwide plumbing service founded in 1935, declined Tuesday to speak about the agreement other than to say, “We’re happy that it’s been settled.”

Spokesman Paul Abrams said it’s the company’s policy to “follow the rule of law about what you are supposed to do with returning military.” Abrams added that Roto-Rooter’s approach is the same when it comes to adhering to the ADA.

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