Randstad US Charged With Discrimination For Denying Job to Man with Asperger’s

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit charging that the employment services and placement referral company Randstad US, LP, failed to hire Jason O’Dell because of his disability of Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. According to an EEOC press release about the suit:

Based on his qualifications for the lab technician position he sought, Randstad had originally fast-tracked O’Dell’s participation in the hiring process. While completing Randstad’s hiring paperwork, however, O’Dell disclosed the disability. Soon after, he was told that the lab technician position had been put “on hold.” O’Dell was not hired and Randstad continued to recruit and hire for the lab technician position.

The suit (Case No. 1:11-cv-01303-WDQ), which was filed last month, charges that the Frederick, MD company violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) act, which makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against someone on the basis of their disability. The EEOC first sought to reach a pre-litigation settlement with Randstad through its conciliation process. On behalf of O’Dell, the suit sought “monetary and injunctive relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages as well as employment policies to eliminate future discrimination because of disability.” Explaining why the EEOC took up O’Dell’s case, Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence says:

“We brought this lawsuit because of Randstad’s dismissive treatment of Mr. O’Dell based on its apparent presumptions about individuals with disabilities and their ability to be productive employees. It is exactly this type of prejudicial and stereotypical decision making that the ADA aims to eradicate.”

With more individuals with Asperger’s syndrome and individuals on the autism spectrum attending college and seeking to enter the workplace, the EEOC’s suit on behalf of O’Dell is significant. Indeed, there are many reasons that employers should want to hire individuals on the autism spectrum. As Asperger’s On the Job wrote regarding Asperger’s and Employment:

If you are worried about the aspie employee doing a good job without supervision, you needn’t bother. Our motivation, if we like our job, comes from within. If you ask me to mow your lawn, paint your wall, or perform brain surgery, I will do the best job possible, as long as it is within my skill set. I do not need big brother watching me, and scrutiny, rather than helping me, makes me shut down. I need to know what you need and when you need it by. If detailed instructions are required, I’ll write them down. I’ve heard of employers mocking aspie employees for extensive note taking. Ridiculous. It is how our minds work. I also require visual maps to know which way to turn when I come out of a building. Even if I go to that building frequently. It doesn’t make me stupid. Just different.

If you have a co-worker or employee who is different, who has Aspergers or you suspect may, read about it. Take the time. Personally I think that autism sensitivity training should be mandated like sexual harassment training. But there’s only 70+ million of us, so I guess that doesn’t warrant it?

Certainly employers, including Randstad, might stand to benefit by such “autism sensitivity training.” Go here for some more information about autistic people and the workplace.


Photo by Steve Bowbrick.


Karen H.
Karen H.5 years ago

My husband was terminated from his job due to an employer not wishing to deal with his asperger syndrome. We have been approved by the Missouri EEOC to file suit but don't know who to go to to handle his case since we had to relocate in another state. My husband was an IT programmer and now has taken a huge pay loss and retrained to drive OTR Semi for a living out of Indiana. Anyone with suggestions as to where we can get info to pursue this case would be greatly appreciated.

Bill M.
Bill M.6 years ago

Yvonne, if you read the article carefully you will see that based on his proven abilities and, presumably, initial interviews, O'Dell had already been chosen as the best candidate for the job. He was already well along the hiring process when Ranstad learned he had Asperger's. Asperger's Syndrome did not interfere with O'Dell's ability to become qualified as a lab technician, and would have no bearing on his ability to perform as a lab technician... to the contrary, people with Asperger's tend to excel in such occupations.
Ranstad demonstrated a clear case of discrimination here, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, especially since Mr. O'Dell would not have required even a "reasonable accommodation" to perform his duties.
Furthermore Ranstad lied to Mr. O'Dell when they told him the position was "on hold", yet continued to actively recruit for the job. This shows they knew they were acting incorrectly.

David L.
David L.6 years ago

I found out that I have AS after I retired from a very miscellaneous 'career,' much of which was of my own making. Having a BA from Dartmouth and an MA from Harvard didn't hurt, and now I find myself comfortably off, debt-free, and the happy owner of two (2) cruising sailboats, one in Maine, and the other in Florida (no, I don't live aboard). Not bad for someone who never earned more than $26,000 a year over his working lifetime, eh? (And no, I don't work the checkout at Walmart, and I didn't 'come from money, either. Shrewd, we Aspies!)

Susan Stebbins
Susan Stebbins6 years ago

As the wife and mother of Asperger's guys, I can tell you they are very bright, very dedicated, and very loyal. Seems like that in itself is a good employee. My son is studying philosophy, next year he will be studying ancient Greek. He plans on going into law. My husband works two jobs, has a BA in Business, put himself through school. He has never been fired from a job. Granted, every Aspie is different, just like all humans are different. This is what the ADA is for, although my guys would never in a million years think of themselves as disabled.

Yvonne C.
Von D6 years ago

It is their job to hire the best person for the job right? If he wasn't then he wasn't. How can you sue for that.

Robert Tedders
Robert T6 years ago

@John S.: Don't be such a prick!! I personally suffer from this disorder and I can tell you it's no picnic!! It's not impossible, but it takes a while to learn to manage it properly.....

beverly gannon
beverly gannon6 years ago

agre wiv Bernadett P.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Most employment agencies only care about their clients and profits, not the people they place in jobs that help them earn that money. Most comapnies and employment agencies in specifically could really benefit from not only from general sensitivity and diversity training but also autism sensitivity training and training to inform them about differently abled people. I haven't heard too many good things about Randstad lately (or Robert Half International) to begin with and this isn't good to hear either. Thanks Kristina.

John S., ssshhhh. The adults are talking right now. This is a serious matter.

John S.
Past Member 6 years ago

Sounds like he would be best suite for a union job ("I do not need big brother watching me, and scrutiny, rather than helping me, makes me shut down.")

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez6 years ago