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Debra M. Lawrence, Regional Attorney

(410) 209-2734   

Maria Salacuse, Supervisory Trial Attorney

(410) 209-2733   

Mary M. Tiernan, Outreach and Education Coordinator

(215) 440-2671



Friday, August 17, 2018




Energy Company Fired Employee Because She Has Dyslexia, Federal Agency Says

BALTIMORE – Protocall Communications, Inc., a company that markets energy price protection in eight states, violated federal law when it refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to a telemarketer during her training and instead fired her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.  

According to the suit, Protocall hired an individual for a telemarketer position at its Laurel, Md., headquarters. The employee began a three-day training program, which included reading a script. The trainer expressed concerns about the employee’s ability to read the script and asked if she had a learning disability. In response, the employee disclosed to the director of training and director of human resources that she had dyslexia. The EEOC says the director of human resources told the employee Protocall “[did not] want to set [her] up for failure” and that there was no point in continuing the training. The employee asked if she would be able to take the script home to practice it. Protocall refused her request for a reasonable accommodation and instead fired her, EEOC charges. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Protocall Communications, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:18-cv-02535) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “Employers must provide reasonable accommodations, including during an employee’s initial training period, unless they can prove it would be a significant cost or disruption. Here, the employee even proposed a free accommodation, but the employer wrongfully refused to consider that or other possible reasonable accommodations that would have allowed her to remain employed.”  

 EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “Employers should explore reasonable accommodation options instead of rushing to terminate an employee. We encourage employers responding to accommodation requests to review the many free resources and guidance on reasonable accommodations the EEOC provides on its website,, as well as resources provided by other organizations such as the Job Accommodation Network at 

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.