Posts Tagged ‘ADA lawsuit’

Veteran Harassed Over His PTSD to Get $75K in Settlement of EEOC ADA Suit Against Employer

Any employer out there who employs a military veteran beware that the federal government won’t tolerate mistreatment of him and her because they have service-related trauma.

Mine Rite Technologies, LLC, a Buffalo, Wyo.-based manufacturing company, will pay $75,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, employee Jason Kaufman, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was harassed by his supervisor because of his condition. The EEOC said the supervisor referred to Kaufman as a “psycho” to his coworkers. The supervisor also made comments about “Psycho Thursday,” because that was the day of the week when the employee attended therapy sessions to treat his PTSD. The EEOC further charged that when the harassment became intolerable, Kaufman was forced to quit to avoid further abuse.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination and harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, Case No. 2:17-cv-00063-SWS, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree announced today resolves the EEOC’s lawsuit and the underlying discrimination charge filed with the EEOC. In addition to monetary relief, the three-year decree includes an injunction against future discrimination based on disability and a requirement that Mine Rite create and implement equal employment opportunity policies. The decree also requires Mine Rite to train its employees and to provide Kaufman with a letter of apology and a letter of recommendation.

“A veteran should never be ridiculed because of PTSD,” said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “This man gave his all for this country, came back suffering, and was brave enough to get help from the Veterans Administration for his condition. Our veterans deserve better than this. Furthermore, mental health is a significant problem in this country, and such mistreatment only makes things worse.”

Elizabeth Cadle, the EEOC’s Phoenix District director, added, “Employers must ensure that all kinds of workplaces are free from discrimination and harassment. The resolution of this lawsuit should serve as a reminder to employers that unlawful harassment because of a mental health condition will not be tolerated. We are pleased that the company’s owner worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case. We are also gratified that Mine Rite will be creating and implementing policies that will help its employees understand their rights under the ADA.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).

Bad Delivery: Papa John’s Pays $125K To Fired Employee With Down’s Syndrome in ADA Suit

What was an operating partner of Papa John’s Pizza thinking when he walked into one of their shops and ordered the firing of an employee with Down’s Syndrome after observing him working with a job coach?

Maybe he wasn’t thinking–because that action cost that particular pizza place a bundle of money to settle the Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit that ensued.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Thursday that Papa John’s agreed to settle the ADA settlement for $125,000.

The EEOC filed the suit on behalf of Scott Bonn, who has Down’s Syndrome, an intellectual disability. According to the EEOC, Papa John’s employed Bonn successfully at its Farmington location for more than five months and allowed an independently employed and insured job coach to assist him.

EEOC further charged that after an operating partner visited the Farmington location and observed Bonn working with the assistance of his job coach, the operating partner ordered Papa John’s local management to fire Bonn.

In addition to the monetary payment,  Papa John’s also must review its equal employment opportunity policies, conduct training for management and human resources employees for its restaurants in Utah, and establish a new recruitment program for individuals with disabilities in Utah.

“Employers must understand that they cannot refuse to provide an accommodation to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “The ADA is intended to ensure that each person with an intellectual disability has a right to work and be evaluated as an individual-not on the basis of his or her disability.”

Maybe the partner didn’t know that Bonn had a disability, but it looks like he just impulsively ordered management to fire him, when stopping and thinking and pondering on the situation might have avoided this legal entanglement with the EEOC.

For a refresher on what constitutes a disability, including intellectual disability, here is the EEOC web page on the ADA.

And here’s information the EEOC has published on the rights of employees who have mental health conditions.

EEOC Comes to Aid of Truck Driver Shunned Because He Took Medication for Bipolar Disease

The lull over Thanksgiving week with no new lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ended today as the agency announced it has sued a trucking company for allegedly refusing to hire a job applicant because of his bipolar disorder.

According to the EEOC, Stevens Transport violated the Americans With Disabilities Act in its denial of employment to Bill Brown, a U.S. Air Force Veteran.

The lawsuit charges that Stevens, the largest refrigerated trucking company in Texas and one of the top four largest temperature-controlled carriers in the United States, told  Brown that he could not be hired as a truck driver for Stevens “per company policy” because of the medication he takes to control his bipolar disorder.

Brown presented a report from his medical provider indicating that he was safe to drive, but the physician with whom the company contracted to do medical examinations told him he could not be hired while on those medications.

However, there are no U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations prohibiting people on these medications from commercial truck driving, and Brown had completed an advanced truck driver training course and passed the DOT physical that is required to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, despite Brown’s qualifications to perform the job safely, Stevens refused to hire him, EEOC said.

Here’s the lawsuit in a nutshell: “The trucking company unlawfully refused to hire this qualified candidate, disregarding his physical exam results, his completion of training, his CDL and the positive report from his medical provider,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. “The company put up an unnecessary roadblock to Mr. Brown’s employment by discounting his skills and abilities as a driver when it turned him away.”

For more on the lawsuit, go here.

And for answers to common questions on how the ADA protects job applicants, click here.

EEOC Goes to Bat for HIV-Positive Employee

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a McDonald’s franchise in Arkansas for allegedly discriminating against an employee who is HIV-positive.

The commission is accusing a McDonald’s restaurant owned and operated by Mathews Management Company and Peach Orchard, Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., with violating the Americans With Disabilities Act when it fired an employee because of his HIV-positive status.

According to the lawsuit, the McDonald’s terminated the employee within days of learning of his HIV status. The suit also alleges the companies maintain a policy of requiring all employees to report the use of prescription medication, also in violation of the ADA.

I’ve written before about EEOC lawsuits on behalf of HIV-positive employees.  Search “HIV positive” in the search field for writeups of those cases.

The point to remember here is that HIV-positive employees have just as much right to nondiscriminatory treatment under the ADA as any other person with a disability.

Read more about this lawsuit.

And here’s a page on the EEOC’s website concerning the legal rights in the workplace of persons who are HIV-positive.

EEOC Sues Employer Alleging It Withdrew Job Offer Because Applicant Used a Wheelchair

ed A Texas company faces accusations that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by withdrawing a job offer to an employee because he uses a wheelchair.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Mobile Destination, Inc., a mobile phone retailer which operates 30 Verizon Wireless stores in Texas, unlawfully revoked a worker’s job offer because of his disability.

Mobile offered the applicant the job after he passed a preemployment background check and drug test. But when the hiring manager told the company vice president, the vice president told him the company wouldn’t hire the applicant. The hiring manager assured the vice president that the applicant didn’t have any trouble moving around the office in his wheelchair, but the vice president insisted that the applicant wasn’t going to be hired.

According to the lawsuit, “The Mobile Destination corporate office instructed lower management not to answer Davis’s calls, and that if Davis came to the store to inquire about his employment, he should be told that the company had “promoted from within.”

Read more about the lawsuit.

 

EEOC Recovers $12K for Deaf Bank Employee Who Was Denied Sign Language Interpreter

If only Bank of America had hired a sign language interpreter to communicate with a deaf employee, maybe it wouldn’t be down $12,000.

That’s what it is costing Bank of America N.A. to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the employee’s behalf.

Instead of communicating with the 12-year deaf employee, who worked at a Bank of America vault location in Las Vegas, using a sign language interpreter, the employee’s managers and supervisors used other ineffective communication methods, such as writing notes, which were not understandable to him, the EEOC said.

Besides agreeing to pay the $12,000, Bank of America also agreed to injunctive relief to ensure a dedicated accommodations team properly engages in the interactive process and effectively provides reasonable accommodations to deaf employees.

Bank of America also agreed to train its accommodations team on the requirements of the ADA as it pertains to deaf employees. That training would address issues involving the specific communication needs of deaf employees on the job and that each deaf employee will have different communication abilities and methods available to them.

Read more from today’s announcement of the settlement.

EEOC: Health Center Leave Policy Violated ADA

Having a too strict leave policy is a red flag that could ensnare the employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit.

A Michigan-based federally funded health center will pay $31,000 to settle an ADA lawsuit over its denial of extended unpaid leave to an employee following his surgery, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today.

According to the EEOCA , Downriver Community Services, headquartered in New Haven, Michigan, refused to extend additional unpaid leave to a peer counselor after surgery for a herniated disc, fired her based on her disability, and then refused to rehire her.

“The goal of (Title I of) the Americans with Disabilities Act is to provide equal employment opportunity for people with disabilities,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Dale Price. “Employers must make decisions based on the law and an employee’s ability to do the job, not on stereotypes and assumptions.”

Enough said. But if you need a refresher on the ADA’s requirement of reasonable accommodation, the EEOC has a web page just for you.

Here’s more on the lawsuit and settlement.