Archive for February, 2017

Trucking Company Out $30Kin ADA Settlement With the EEOC Over Drug Screening Policies

An applicant for a commercial truck driver position will receive $30,000 in a settlement of an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed on his behalf.

The EEOC’s suit against Covenant Transport, Inc., a trucking company based in Chattanooga, Tenn., charged that Covenant discriminated against an applicant for a commercial truck driver position on the basis of his disability.

According to the lawsuit, Covenant conditionally approved the applicant’s application, pending a license check and a drug screening. The applicant told Covenant’s representative he was unable to provide a urine sample due to a medical condition, bladder exstrophy, but could provide blood for the drug screening. Covenant initially agreed to the blood screening, but later decided not to hire the applicant because of his medical condition and the fact that he could not provide a valid urine specimen.

This violated the ADA’s duty of reasonable accommodation, the EEOC alleged in its lawsuit filed in May.

Read the EEOC’s announcement of the settlement here.

EEOC Sues Defense Contractor Under ADA For Not Letting Depressed Worker Resume Working

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is picking up the pace in litigation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In another ADA lawsuit announced last week, the agency said it is suing L-3 Communications, a large defense contractor with facilities in Texas, for allegedly refusing to allow a senior manufacturing engineer to return to work following leave related to depression and subsequently forced him to resign because of his disability.

This is a case where, if the EEOC is to be believed, the engineer was twice cleared to return to work-including by the company’s doctor–but the company was stubborn in refusing to allow him to resume work.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the engineer worked successfully for L-3 Communications after being hired in 2008. In late 2014, he suffered two major depressive episodes at work and went on medical leave. After receiving treatment, he was returned to work with a full release from his physician, but L-3 Communications insisted that he submit to a fitness-for-duty exam before returning to his position. The psychologist who conducted the exam then indicated that he could safely resume work with accommodations such as additional training and feedback, and recommended that the best long-term outcome would be to return him to a different position. The engineer also asked whether there was a reasonable accommodation that the company could provide that would allow him to return to work. The company failed to consider or provide any reasonable accommodation, and instead gave him the ultimatum that he would either need to resign or be fired.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

Employer Out $110K in ADA Settlement Over Refusal to Hire, Accommodate Two Deaf Persons

A Texas cellphone repair facility will pay $110,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit stemming from its alleged denial of employment to hearing-impaired applicants because of their disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Thursday.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that Fort Worth-based S& B Industry also violated the ADA by by denying the two applicants a reasonable accommodation during the application process.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Katelynn Baker and Tia Rice applied for jobs with S&B Industry (also doing business as Fox Conn S&B) in the company’s cellphone repair facility. During a group interview, the two women used American Sign Language to communicate with one another, and the company became aware that they were hearing-impaired. In a meeting with one of the supervisors, Baker and Rice requested that the supervisor provide written information about the positions for which they were applying. The supervisor initially complied, but then refused to continue writing information for Baker and Rice, according to the suit. Baker and Rice were then told that S&B Industry would not hire them.

“Here were two excellent candidates for hire who demonstrated a great deal of courage by coming forward to report what happened to them,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. “We hope the settlement in this case will play a part in encouraging employers to eliminate barriers that keep deaf applicants from bringing their skills and talents to the workplace.”

To read more about the do’s and dont’s of hiring of persons with disabilities under the ADA, click here.

Deaf Job Applicant Will Get $30K-Plus in Settlement of EEOC’s ADA Suit Against Employer

After a lull, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is picking up the pace on the Americans With Disabilities front.

The commission announced yesterday it has settled an ADA lawsuit it filed on behalf of an applicant who was denied a job because he is deaf.

The applicant applied for a job with Graceworks Lutheran Services, a housing and care service provider located in Dayton, Ohio.

According to the EEOC,  Graceworks Lutheran Services refused to hire Michelle Anthony because she is deaf and cannot speak. Anthony applied for the site manager position at one of the Graceworks’ housing communities. Despite its being an apartment complex that gives preference to deaf residents, Graceworks required the successful job candidate to be a hearing individual.

The employer has agreed to settle the case for $30,660, the commission announced yesterday.

Rescinded Job Offer to Pregnant Applicant Costs Fitness Center $86,000 in EEOC Suit Settlement

A gym could buy a lot of equipment with $86,000. But instead that’s the price that Lifetime Fitness Inc. has agreed to fork over to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

And telling a pregnant applicant to “come back later” and apply for a job when she’s no longer pregnant isn’t the way to get on the good side of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission either.

According to the EEOC, after two job interviews, Life Time Fitness told Emily Carpenter, who was applying for a job at its Rockville, Md., location, to come in to complete new hire paperwork so she could be placed on the schedule. When Carpenter emailed the gym with her work availability and advised that she was 35 weeks pregnant, the gym failed to schedule her for work and stopped communicating with her.

A manager finally told her two weeks later that her position had been placed on hold and two other people had been hired. The manager encouraged her to apply for a position at another Life Time Fitness facility opening later that year, the EEOC said.

“Rescinding a job offer to a qualified applicant, even if you tell her she can reapply for another position after she has the baby, is still illegal pregnancy discrimination,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.

Read more about the settlement here.

OSHA Sounds Alarm on Ladder Falls; Symposium Will Address Safety Steps

The next time you see someone working on a ladder–at a home, or on overhead electrical lines, or wherever–consider the dangers involved to the worker.

About 300 people die each year in the United States in falls from ladders, and many of them are on the job when it happens, according to a blog post yesterday by Jack A. Rector, the Fort Worth area office director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The post includes a pictorial representation of safe step ladder use and some very heartbreaking stories of worker who died from ladder falls.

It also advertises a upcoming symposium by University of Texas at Arlington’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center on March 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. CT. The event is being held in conjunction with the American Ladder Institute, which designated March as National Ladder Safety Month.

The symposium will address three simple steps that can help prevent falls from ladders:

  • Plan ahead to get the job done safely.
  • Provide the right ladder for the job with proper load capacity.
  • Train workers to use ladders safely

Persons who can’t attend the symposium can participate remotely to obtain information on preventing fatal falls from ladders and ensuring that workers return home safe at the end of every day.

OSHA Touts On-Site Safety Consultations

For this, my 2,000th blog post(!), I bring you good tidings from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which wants you to know there’s an alternative to a confrontational approach to making sure the workplace is safe.

On-site consultation between OSHA inspectors and the employer’s representatives could just be the ticket–separate from enforcement and penalties, the agency tweeted recently.

The tweet links the readers to an agency web page devoted to the ins and outs of consultation.

At, you’ll learn about the consultative process and benefits.

“This free safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, employers can find out about potential hazards at their workplace, improve programs that are already in place, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.”

“The consultation is confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff. No citations or penalties are issued and your only obligation is to correct serious job safety and health hazards–a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner.”

On the right hand column on the page, there’s information about the onsite visit. Because consultation is a voluntary process, the employer must request it.

The onsite visit starts with an opening conference between the OSHA consultant, followed by a walkthrough of the premises (pointing out safety and health risks), followed by a review of the consultant’s findings.

“After the walk-through, the consultant will review the findings with you before leaving. Finally, the consultant will send you a detailed written report explaining the findings and confirming any abatement periods agreed upon. They may also contact you from time to time to check your progress.”

Sounds like something you should check out. To paraphrase our president, “what have you got to lose?”

Check back here tomorrow night for post number 2001–and thanks for reading me!

And keep those comments coming.

Postscript: Thanks for Jon Hyman of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog for featuring this post in his Feb. 24 weekly roundup.

D.C. Paid Leave Law Could Be in for Rewrite

The ink is barely dry on Washington, D.C.’s new paid leave law, and already its leading proponent is calling for rewriting some its provisions.

Under the law, which passed the city council in December, companies must offer 8 weeks of parental, six weeks of to care for an ailing relative and two weeks of personal sick time to eligible employees.

The potential revisions to the law pushed by council chairman Phil Mendelson concern the tax rate that the government would impose on the city’s businesses to pay for the benefit and the bureaucracy that would be set up to administer the law.

In its current version, the law imposes a 0.62 percent increase in employer-paid payroll taxes. Under that revenue the cit would replace 90 percent of the first $900 in affected employees’ weekly pay and 50 percent of their remaining weekly pay, wit a cap of $1,000 per week.

One option being considered is to impose a fee on employers with 50 or more workers hat would not exceed 0.1 percent of payroll.

As for who will run the program, Mendelson said he’s open to the idea of hiring a private contractor rather than setting up a new government department envisioned in the current legislation.

The good new is there is time to work out these tweaks to the law, because it won’t apply to the city’s businesses until 2019.

There could still be some hiccups along the way. Mayor Muriel Bowser didn’t sign the bill into law but neither did she veto it. However, the bill is now before Congress for a 30-day review period. And who knows whether this Congress will let the law stand.

I’ve been tracking the law’s progress.

Stay tuned here for further developments.

Employer Settles ADA Lawsuit Resulting From Firing of Employee Who Was Put on Medical Hold

Employers can’t outsource to third parties their legal obligation to determine whether an employee with a disability is capable of doing the job he or she was hired for.

That’s the gist of an announced settlement in an American With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Muskegon Family Care, a Michigan company.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Avis Lane worked for Muskegon Family Care as an outreach-enrollment coordinator. Before she began work, the company required that she submit to a post-offer, pre-employment physical. The medical specialist who conducted that physical recommended that Lane be put on a medical hold due to medications she was taking.

Notwithstanding the recommended medical hold, the company allowed Lane to work for over a month. Eventually, Muskegon Family Care fired her based on the recom­mended medical hold, the EEOC said.

The court granted the EEOC partial summary judgment, finding “this case presents a peculiar fact pattern that represents a textbook case for unlawful discrimination under the regarded-as-disabled prong of the ADA.”

Following that ruling, the employer chose to settle, agreeing to pay $21,500 and institute other relief to conclude the lawsuit.

Failure to Reassign Employee With Disability Comes Back to Haunt the City of Philadelphia

Had the city of Philadelphia made an effort to reassign a disabled sanitation worker rather than fire him, it wouldn’t now be under court supervision for its actions.

But then again, it would also have not learned a valuable lesson in what the law requires when an employee with a disability can’t do his regular job but is still employable in some other job.

The complaint in this case was filed against the city by the U.S. Department of Justice, which enforces the Americans With Disabilities Act against cities, based on a referral from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the DOJ complaint, the employee, who worked for the city as a sanitation worker, was terminated from his position after he had a heart attack and his doctor placed him under a 20-pound lifting restriction, which prevented him from continuing as a sanitation worker.  Although the employee made several requests for reassignment and the city had numerous vacant positions, the city failed to consider the employee for reassignment to a different position for which he was qualified.  Instead, the city terminated the employee because of his disability.

Under the proposed consent decree, which is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the city’s streets department must revise its policies to ensure that reassignment is considered as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities, train relevant employees on the ADA and report to the Justice Department on implementation of the decree.

The city will also offer to reinstate and reassign the employee to an open position for which he is qualified and will pay the employee a total of $90,000 for back pay, accrued interest and compensatory damages.

“Firing an employee because of a disability in these circumstances constitutes discrimination and violates the ADA,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Just because an employee’s disability prevents them from working in one position does not disqualify them from working successfully in a different position.  We commend the city of Philadelphia for agreeing to revise its policies and offering to reinstate the former employee.”