August and September show increase in disability lawsuits and settlements
In August and half of September, EEOC filed 10 and settled 11 disability lawsuits. This represents an increase from August where seven disability lawsuits and two disability settlements were recorded. Three of the settlements involved companies that failed to provide employees with additional leave beyond the requirements of the FMLA and did not engage in an interactive process to determine accommodations. Five of the cases involved individuals with hearing impairments.
• Collnick Construction, Inc. dba Colorado Excavating [9/12/2019] – EEOC alleges that the company fired an office assistant four days after she suffered a seizure. She felt the oncoming seizure and informed the office manager before its onset.
• Waterway Gas and Wash Company [9/12/19] – EEOC alleges that the company fired an employee about two weeks after he suffered a seizure at work and requested accommodation for his disability. At the time, he was training for a promotion to Team Leader. His doctor released him to return to work and perform most of his job functions.
• Allstate Beverage Company, LLC [9/10/19] – EEOC alleges that the company fired an employee with a disabling heart condition instead of providing him with a reasonable accommodation.
• Union Pacific Railroad Company [9/9/19] – EEOC alleges that the company imposed unlawful restrictions and failed to allow an employee who once had a brain tumor to work as a custodian.
• Carefree of Colorado [9/6/19] – EEOC alleges that the company refused to hire a candidate for two open positions because of her hearing impairment even though she had previous manufacturing experience and was qualified for both positions.
• Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc. [8/29/19] – EEOC alleges that the company failed to accommodate an employee’s disability and fired her because of it. Her disability required her to take frequent restroom breaks.
• Employer Solutions Group, LLC [8/22/19] – EEOC alleges that the payroll servicing company fired an employee because she needed crutches after surgery.
• Christus Health dba Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center [8/21/19] – EEOC alleges that the hospital was subjecting a deaf employee to harassment and disability discrimination. She was fired because of her disability and requests for accommodation, blaming her instead for supposedly not getting trained fast enough. She was also fired in retaliation for opposing the discrimination.
• Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. [8/7/19] – EEOC alleges that the company failed to hire an applicant because of their disability. For the medical testing and drug screening process, the applicant could only provide a urine sample via a stoma in her abdomen, which must be catheterized using a quick catheter. She was denied a reasonable accommodation and subjected to extensive and invasive questioning about her disability.
• Northwest Wireless Enterprises, LLC [8/7/19] – EEOC alleges that the company stopped accommodating a sale associate with severe hearing impairment and fired her. A new store manager decided he was tired of repeating himself when communicating with her and openly expressed to other employees his desire to fire her.
• Connections CSP, Inc. [9/10/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $550,000 to five former employees with a disability who were fired after requesting additional unpaid leave beyond the required 12 week under the FMLA. The company also failed to provide other requested reasonable accommodations that would have allowed workers to remain employed, such as reassignment to vacant positions.
• Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC [9/10/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $50,000 to a 13-year employee who was fired for refusing to sign an agreement promising to abide by the company requirement to disclose, directly to her supervisor, all medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, including dosages and changes of dosages, that could affect job performance.
• Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, Inc. [8/29/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $375,000 to a class of employees for maintaining an inflexible 12-week maximum leave policy. When employees with disabilities requested additional leave beyond the FMLA, their requests were denied, instead of engaging in an interactive process with each individual to determine if s/he could be accommodated.
• Oklahoma Burger King Franchise [8/22/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $30,000 for withdrawing a job offer from an applicant with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She was accompanied by a representative from Community Access Inc. who offered to provide a job coach onsite support at no cost to the company.
• Blood Bank of Hawaii [8/20/19] entered into a two-year consent decree and will pay $175,000 for failing to provide employees with disabilities leave beyond the required 12-weeks required by the FMLA. The company also fired employees who had either exhausted their medical leave or were unable to work without restrictions.
• Wal-Mart Stores East, LP [8/19/19] entered into a two-year consent decree and will pay $100,000 for refusing to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters and closed-captioned training videos, to two deaf employees.
• SoftPro, LLC [8/16/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $80,000 to an IT employee with a record of opiate addiction who participated in a physician-supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) since 2009. The employee voluntarily admitted himself to an inpatient treatment facility to eliminate the need for MAT and successfully completed the treatment and returned to work. When admitting to the reason for his leave, he was fired.
• Tamco Professional Coating Services, Inc. [8/7/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $90,000 to a foreperson that was told that he insurance costs would increase because of his hearing loss. Shortly thereafter he was fired.
• Cooking Round the World [8/7/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $3,000 to a former employee who received a positive test result for an interactive form of tuberculosis. The employee provided a doctor’s certification permitting her to work in a school environment and as a medical assistant but the company insisted that she could not continue teaching young children. They offered her fewer hours for less pay working in a different position.
• Vallen Distribution, Inc. [8/6/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $75,000 to a fired delivery driver instead of granting his request for unpaid leave for a defined period of time to treat and recover from prostate cancer. He was fired the day before his scheduled surgery.
• Appalachian Wood Products, Inc. [8/6/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $42,500 to an applicant who was not hired because he was taking suboxone, a medical prescribed treatment for opioid addiction, without considering whether it affected his ability to do the job safely. The company also required applicants to disclose their use of medications prior to making conditional job offers.