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Travel company named in discrimination lawsuit

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has accused a travel company of subjecting an employee to disability-related harassment and discrimination.

Kintetsu International Express (USA) Inc. also retaliated against the woman and a co-worker for protesting her treatment, the EEOC said in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

Anne Horiuchi, an attorney with the company’s law firm, Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, had no comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

A supervisor disparaged the woman, a tour coordinator who has difficulty walking due to malignant rheumatoid arthritis, while employed with the company in 2005-06, the suit said.

The supervisor subjected the woman to such remarks as “Because of the way you walk, you create a bad atmosphere,” ”No one wants you here,” and “You are selfish for making other people have to watch you limp,” according to the suit.

The same supervisor is also accused of giving the woman a less favorable work performance evaluation than she had received before, the EEOC said.

The woman and her co-worker were harassed and forced to quit in retaliation for complaining about the misconduct, it said.

Such conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, the EEOC said. Its suit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination.

“Those who have the courage to stand up and protest discrimination — even when they are not the victims — should be commended for their efforts to rectify abuses at work, not condemned,” Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu office, said. “It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who complain of discrimination or harassment, and employers are responsible for taking action to correct such abuses.”

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