John Woods, Brain-Injured Former Umpire, was Wrongfully Fired by Outback Steakhouse, Says EEOC Complaint; Claims by the Disabled on Rise

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John Woods, a former minor-league umpire who suffered a brain injury in 2004, was wrongfully fired from his job as a server at Metrocenter's Outback Steakhouse, says an EEOC complaint.

John Woods, a former umpire recovering from a brain injury, was fired from an Outback restaurant because of his disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a federal complaint.

The subject of several media reports in recent years, (the Arizona Republic had a long write-up on him in February), Woods had worked his way up the ranks as a minor-league umpire until a tragic 2004 car crash in Caracas, Venezuela. The Phoenix resident had to relearn basic tasks and give up his dream of becoming a major league umpire, but as of the Repub article was enjoying a return to officiating at high-school games.

Outback Steakhouse's Metrocenter restaurant hired Woods in November of 2009, and he worked there "successfully" as a server for a while. But restaurant management fired him in January 2010 because of problems related to his traumatic brain injury, the EEOC's complaint says.


Woods has slowed thinking, impaired speech and requires prism glasses.

The EEOC asks the court to award back pay and punitive damages to Woods, and to prohibit Outback from engaging in further disability discrimination.

We sent an e-mail to Woods but haven't heard back.

EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill tells New Times that the tough economic times have caused a "big spike" in cases of disabled folks being unfairly fired.

She has three more cases on her desk that the EEOC is preparing to file suit over in the next couple of weeks, she says.

"As soon as the disability is discovered -- boom, they're gone," O'Neill says. Not only is the disabled person then out of a job, but they typically also lose the health insurance they desperately need, she says.

O'Neill says some employers don't seem to understand that changes Congress made to the Americans With Disability Act in 2009 confirmed that people with a wide range of medical problems, such as epilepsy, lupus or, as in Woods' case, traumatic brain injuries, are protected under federal employment laws.


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7 comments
SAD
SAD

This is a sad attempt to get money. John-your selfish act is a direct insult to the hardworking employees who are struggling to pay for their families and medical, schooling, ect. My best friend works at Outback and they do ALOT for the community in helping others in the community, in fact they also work with SARRC in employing individuals with disabilities. This is is beyond selfish, there are alot more people less fortunate than you.  Get job and move on. There is jobs posted allover Craiglist and even Walmart is hiring in phx.

Male_AcidAngel111
Male_AcidAngel111

he worked there for a while ( successfully ) . He worked there for 3 months total . The "while" should be VERY SHORT WHILE. Long enough that he wasn't on employee probation anymore or just under his probation time ( 90 days ) as an employee in the state of AZ. It is a crappy thing to do , but a lot of employers do fire people within 90 days , because in the probation period it is a lot easier to fire someone  , than after probation period..... also for unemployment benefit purposes....... very shady practice. But it goes on year after year this way in many states. I have been victim of this myself a few times in the past. Outback does not discriminate , and this is a media blitz and someone's weak attempt to get money for NOT HAVING A JOB. HEY LOSER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is no one's fault but your own that you do not currently have one. I have a handicapp , permanately messed up teeth from my CLEF LIP , and aspergers syndrome. But it has never stopped me from doing what i want for a living , paying bills. I have never sued anyone for being fired for not being "presentable" as a server for olive garden , or "just not what the company is looking for when working for TGI Fridays" during my probation period. That is once again what the companies do so they don't have to pay your pathetic ass unemployment. Move on.

Guest23
Guest23

Nail these employers to the wall.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

You forgot to mention that you also suffer from OPS*.

*Obnoxious Personality Disorder.

Your primary disability is your attitude.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Expect employers to follow the law????????

These fuckers would like to see the state pass an "Indentured Servitude*" law.

*Attn Tea Partiers  this term doesn't mean your maid has false teeth.

Seedy Ward
Seedy Ward

We already have an indentured servitude law: it's the one that authorized private prisons.

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