Rayner Washington was born with the inability to straighten his pinkie -- a minor condition that never caused him much trouble. At least until Washington began working at South Florida-based Saveology, a deal-of-the-day website launched last June. In a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington alleges the company created a hostile work environment and then fired him because his pinkie couldn't log into its digital hand scanner.
"They created a 'boiler room' environment," says Washington's attorney, Robert Hudson. "The only priority was profit, and the welfare and basic benefits of employees was not met."
Saveology's press office didn't respond to an email from Riptide; several messages left at its office in Margate were not returned, either.
Last October, around the same time Washington was fired, Margate offered Saveology a $2.4 million tax break to move its operations to the city and create 700 new jobs. Washington, a Pembroke Pines native, began working for the company in January 2011.
In his suit, he alleges that before he was fired, supervisors berated employees, even threatening to fight them in some cases, and monitored their bathroom breaks. Washington, who is in management school, says he dealt with the abuse because he needed the money.
"I woke up every day dreading walking into work, but if it meant I could achieve my goals, I was willing to do it," he says.
The 26-year-old says he told his superiors several times that because of his disability, the company's digital hand scanner could not read his handprint and properly sign him in and out of work. His requests for reasonable accommodations, such as a simple pencil and paper to sign in and out, were repeatedly denied, he says.
Washington filed his complaint with the EEOC March 15.
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"I just want to expose [Saveology] for the hostile work environment it created," he says.
-- Kareem Shaker