Breathing Easier: Fired Asthmatic Employee to Get $58K in Settlement of EEOC’s ADA Lawsuit

Don’t ever rule out allowing an employee to work at home as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, especially a disability that is exacerbated by the office environment. Otherwise, you’re liable to find your company on the wrong end of an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday that it had come to terms with Baker Concrete, a construction company in Houston, Texas, which it sued under the ADA for its treatment of terminated payroll manager Maria Castilla.

According to the EEOC, Baker Concrete terminated Castillo in 2013 because of her disability, asthma, when the company refused to provide her with a reasonable accommodation of working at home for a period after she had a bad reaction to chemical dust in the workplace. After Castillo, a nine-year employee of the company, was denied a reasonable accommodation, she was fired by two human resource officials, who told her that she was disabled, could no longer perform her job, and would just become ill again if they gave her permission to work at home for a period because the building was old and she would continue to have breathing problems upon her return, the EEOC said.

To settle the lawsuit, Baker Concrete agreed to ay $58,000, implement  EEOC-monitored training at its facility on employment discrimination law, including the ADA, and implement an ADA policy which includes permitting telework as a reasonable accommodation in appropriate circumstances.

All Ms Castillo wanted was to continue to do her job at home for a while because of her asthma flare-up due to dust in the office,” said EEOC’s Houston District Office Regional Attorney Jim Sacher. “As Congress had wanted, this resolution will enable employees and the company to fairly consider a broader range of options to accommodate disabled workers.”

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the settlement.

 

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