Employer Accused of Misusing Medical Info in Hiring Process Agrees to Settle ADA Lawsuit

“Handle information on employees’ medical conditions with care.”

Those words should be etched on the walls of every HR department in the company. Otherwise, you’re apt to be slapped with an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit, forcing you either to litigate your violation of the law or settle for a hefty sum.

Chemtrusion, Inc., a Houston-based manufacturing services company, will pay $145,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced on July 21.

The EEOC filed suit against Chemtrusion in October 2016, claiming that since 2012, the company refused to hire or provide reasonable accommodations to a class of job applicants at the company’s Jeffersonville, Ind., facility because of medical information it obtained during pre-employ­ment medical examinations. The company failed to conduct any individual­ized assessment of whether they could perform essential job functions, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division (EEOC v. Chemtrusion, Inc., Case No. 4:16-cv-00180) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC and Chemtrusion voluntarily negotiated the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, without any admission of wrongdoing or liability by Chemtrusion.

In addition to monetary relief, the decree requires that Chemtrusion: (1) instruct its hiring personnel and medical providers not to conduct medical inquiries until after a condit­ional offer is made; (2) conduct individualized analysis before withdrawing job offers; (3) train its hiring personnel on what the ADA requires with respect to medical examinations and hiring; (4) submit deci­sions to rescind job offers to legal counsel for review; and (5) track rescinded offers. The EEOC will monitor compli­ance with the two-year decree.

“All the corrective measures required by the consent decree will ensure that Chemtrusion will comply with federal disability discrimination law in filling vacancies in the future,” said Kenneth L. Bird, regional attorney for EEOC’s Indianapolis District. “It will also provide a strong reminder to other employers that applicants are entitled to an individualized assessment of whether they can do a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, before a company may rescind a job offer after a medical examination.”

Eliminating barriers to recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities or racial, ethnic, and religious groups, older workers, and women, is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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