EEOC: Employer Violated ADA By Firing Employee Over Fears Related to His Back Injury

An employer can’t fire an employee based on unfounded assumptions about the employee’s ability to do a job because of a prior injury. That’s an ADA violation.

Yet another employer made the mistake of relying on fears about a worker’s injury. Last week the EEOC announced that MPW Industrial Services Inc., a provider of industrial cleaning, facility management and labor support services, will pay $37,500, to settle an ADA suit alleging it violated the rights of an employee who had a back injury.

According to the EEOC’s allegations, the company fired the worker based on the fears of its occupational nurse that he would not be able to charge his implanted Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit in his lower back for a back impairment at the worksite where he might be assigned.

The employee had told the company that he did not need to charge the unit at work or during working hours–to no avail.

“While employers may ask for medical information from newly hired employees under certain, limited circumstances, this case demonstrates the risks and costs involved when a company makes uninformed or speculative judgments about an employee or applicant’s medical condition or medical treatment,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.

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