EEOC: Employer Violated ADA in Denying Light-Duty Assignment to Employee Injured Off Work

The duty to reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability by considering a light duty assignment applies whether the injury occurs on or off the job, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A food services company that failed to make that accommodation is now a defendant in an Americans With Disabilities Act filed by the EEOC.

The EEOC announced yesterday that it is suing the company, American Blue Ribbons Holding, LLC, dba Legendary Baking, for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act in its treatment of Patricia Hall, a long-term employee at Legendary Baking’s Oak Forest, Ill., baking facility,.

According to the EEOC, Hall developed CSP myelopathy  a condition affecting the spinal cord, as a result of injury outside of work. This condition required Hall to take a leave of absence in order to have surgery. While recuperating, Hall sought to return to work with restrictions in a temporary light-duty capacity, but was told that she was ineligible because such work was reserved for employees injured on the job. As a result, Hall remained on leave and was terminated for failure to return to work at the expiration of 180 days, pursuant to Legendary Baking’s leave policy. When Hall was released to full duty a month later, she sought rehire, but was denied, EEOC said.

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which can include denying reasonable accommodations to disabled employees, terminating their employment, and failing to hire or rehire disabled individuals.

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