Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

Big Wheels: Trucking Company Forks Over $65K in ADA Settlement For Driver Fired After Surgery

“Customer complaints” were apparently a euphemism by this employer that didn’t want to keep a worker on after his hip replacement surgery.

Regional International Corporation, a commercial truck and trailer dealership with locations in Western New York, has agreed to pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced June 7.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in June 2015, Regional International Corporation fired a truck parts delivery driver shortly after he requested leave for hip replacement surgery to treat hip osteoarthritis. The same supervisor who had recently given the driver a performance rating of “Exceptional” and wrote that he had received “no complaints from customers” nevertheless told the driver that he was being fired due to customer complaints. This supervisor also informed the EEOC during the agency’s investigation that disabled people could not work for the company because they would not be able to get the work done, EEOC claimed.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from disability discrimination, including the failure to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to qualified individuals who have a disability, have a record of disability, or are regarded as disabled. Such reasonable accommodations can include leaves of absence. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Regional International Corporation, Civil Action No. 17-cv-06505), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On June 6, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford entered a consent decree resolving the case. In addition to a $65,000 award for lost wages and other damages, the three-year consent decree includes multiple steps to prevent disability discrimination from occurring at the company in the future. For example, the decree requires comprehensive training on the protections of the ADA for all employees, including supervisors and human resource employees, as well as the adoption of policies and practices to promote a workplace free of disability discrimination.

“Here, an ‘Exceptional’ employee lost his job after requesting time off to treat a painful disability,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “We are pleased that the parties were able to reach a resolution to better protect the rights of employees with disabilities.”

Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director, added, “We hope that this settlement will help inform employers and the public at large that under the ADA, employees may be entitled to take medical leave when it is a reasonable accommodation of a disability.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

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Va. Mexican Cantina Settles Harassment Suit

Staff at this Virginia restaurant should be, more comfortable at work knowing that their bosses are not committed to protecting their workers from harassment.

A Bluefield, Va., Mexican restaurant will pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced June 7.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Alexus Dudeck worked as a hostess at La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina. In 2015, Dudeck, then 18 years old, was subjected to unwelcome sexual comments and touching by a significantly older male manager. The suit alleged that the manager had previously engaged in the same or similar sexual conduct with at least one other female employee of the company. At the time the alleged sexual harassment occurred, La Fiesta did not have a sexual harassment policy or employee complaint procedures in effect. After Dudeck complained about the sexual harassment, La Fiesta reduced her work hours, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose the harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Price Ventures, LLC d/b/a La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina, Civil Action No. 1:17cv00041) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

Under the consent decree resolving this case, La Fiesta has also agreed to implement new policies, conduct training for employees and management, post an anti-discrimination notice at the workplace, and report compliance to the EEOC for a three-year period.

“Protecting vulnerable workers is a top priority for the EEOC,” said Kara Gibbon Haden, acting regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect their employees from workplace harassment.”

Bad Bet: Vegas-Based Gaming Co. Coughs Up $3.5M in ADA Settlement Over Return-to-Work

This employer took a gamble with its medical conditions policy–and lost big time.

Nevada Restaurant Services, a large Las Vegas-based gaming company that operates slot machines, taverns and casinos in Nevada and Montana, will pay $3.5 million and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced June 6.

According to the EEOC’s suit, since at least 2012, Nevada Restaurant Services violated federal law by maintaining a well-established companywide practice of requiring that employees with disabilities or medical conditions be 100 percent healed before returning to work. This policy does not allow for engagement in an interactive process or providing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.

The EEOC also charged that Nevada Restaurant Services fired and/or forced employees to quit because they were regarded as disabled, had a record of disability, and/or were associated with someone with a disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The EEOC filed suit in March 2018 (EEOC v. Nevada Restaurant Services, Case No. 2:18-cv-00954-JCM-CWH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit provides for $3.5 million in monetary relief for the discrimination victims. In addition, Nevada Restaurant Services will retain a consultant with ADA experience to review and revise company disability policies as appropriate. The company will also implement effective ADA training for human resources and supervisory personnel and staff. Additionally, Nevada Restaurant Services will develop a centralized tracking system for employee requests for disability accommodations. The company is also required to submit regular reports to the EEOC verifying compliance with the decree during its three-and-a-half-year term.

“Systemic disability discrimination is still all too prevalent,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Las Vegas in its jurisdiction. “Besides regularly examining established practices and ensuring that staff is adequately trained, employers must also ensure their decision makers follow through on that training by holding them accountable to complying with the ADA.”

Wendy Martin, local director of the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, added, “The EEOC will continue its quest to identify and eradicate systemic disability discrimination.”

EEOC: Job Offer Takeaway by Employer Because Applicant Regarded as Having TB Violated ADA

This applicant was dealt a losing hand just by having been exposed to tuberculosis.

M&R Consulting, LLC, a Towson, Md,-based home care agency doing business as Home Instead Senior Care, violated federal law when it rescinded a job offer because it regarded an applicant as having tuberculosis, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charged in a lawsuit it announced June 6.

The EEOC said that M&R Consulting conditionally hired a qualified applicant for a caregiving position in Towson, subject to her passing pre-employment requirements, including a skin test for tuberculosis. The applicant, who had prior caregiving experience, tested positive for tuberculosis on the purified protein derivative skin test. However, that skin test only shows that someone has been exposed to tuberculosis bacteria and not whether the person has latent tuberculosis or has progressed to active tuberculosis disease. Prior to this test, the applicant had never tested positive for tuberculosis and had no symptoms of the disease, EEOC charges.

M&R Consulting’s human resources coordinator told the applicant to submit to a chest x-ray for tuberculosis. The applicant emailed M&R Consulting the x-ray, which confirmed that she did not have tuberculosis. According to the suit, M&R Consulting emailed the applicant that, “any positive results are not accepted whether latent or otherwise” and wrongfully rescinded the job offer because it perceived the applicant as disabled.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination because an employer believes someone has a disability, even if she does not have such an impairment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. M&R Consulting, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-01638-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “The applicant provided an x-ray proving that she did not have active tuberculosis. She was well-qualified for the position but M&R Consulting rescinded the job offer even though she was not a health risk. That’s a violation of the ADA and that’s why we filed this lawsuit.”

“Employers should make hiring decisions based on facts and qualifications, not ill-founded fears or biases about an applicant’s medical condition,” added Jamie R. Williamson, district director of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA, is another SEP priority.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Bad Wheels: EEOC Recovers $59K For Female Truck Driver Who Quit Over Ongoing Harassment

This company’s nonchalance toward the harassment of a female employee by her co-workers ended up costing it money.

A North Dakota civil construction company operating in Minot, N.D., will pay $59,000 to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday. The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Keller Paving and Landscaping, Inc., violated federal law when it subjected a female employee to a hostile work environment based on her sex and to work conditions that were so intolerable she was forced to resign.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Jennifer Gerard worked for Keller from June to October 2013 as a truck driver. During Gerard’s employment, she was subjected to sexual harassment by several male coworkers. The harassment included the coworkers telling her she did not belong at the worksite but should be at home in the kitchen taking care of her children. One male coworker asked her to perform oral sex on him, the EEOC said. On one occasion, a male coworker touched her shoulder and her leg. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Gerard complained to the company’s owners and site manager, but the harassment continued. The work conditions were so intolerable that Gerard was finally forced to quit her job.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Keller Paving and Landscaping, Inc.; Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00092 DLH/CSM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hoveland signed the order entering the consent decree on June 4, 2018. The decree provides for $59,000 in monetary relief to Gerard. It also requires Keller to revise its policies in its employee handbook to outline a complaint procedure for complaining about sexual harassment.

The decree also requires the company to train its management personnel on Title VII, including its prohibitions against sexual harassment. Further, the decree requires Keller to train its non-management employees on their rights under Title VII, including their right to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. Finally, the company must report complaints of sexual harassment to the EEOC during the decree’s two-year term.

“Too many women in non-traditional jobs are forced to endure this sort of abuse simply because of their gender,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District. “We are pleased with this settlement, which will monitor the company’s practices on sexual harassment, and the EEOC will continue to combat this kind of misconduct anywhere and everywhere we find it.”

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “Maddeningly, women continue to face sexual harassment at their jobs, and employers must recognize the importance of acting promptly to address complaints about this inexcusable behavior. The EEOC remains committed to eliminating harassment and discrimination from the American workplace.”

The EEOC was represented in the case by Senior Trial Attorney Tina Burnside in the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Tone Deaf: Store Denied Communications Accommodations to Employees, EEOC Alleges

What employer wouldn’t appreciate that employees with trouble hearing wouldn’t need some help to do their job in the form of a reasonable accommodation?

Apparently this Walmart Store in Washington, D.C.

Walmart Stores East, LP violated federal disability discrimination law by denying reasonable accommodations to deaf employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Monday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Walmart Stores East, LP, refused to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters, to Troy Miles and Tonya Bland, who worked at Walmart Store No. 5941 in Northwest Washington, D.C. The EEOC says that Miles and Bland were entitled to accommodations to enable them to obtain information from, and to participate in, meetings, trainings and other workplace communications.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA.) The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-01314) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Employers must provide accommodations to deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, so that they can enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment, such as obtaining information disseminated at meetings and participating in meetings,” said EEOC Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “It was unlawful to ignore deaf employees’ need for effective reasonable accommodations. When employers violate the law, EEOC will hold them accountable.”

The EEOC’s Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

$15K Awarded EEOC in Settlement of ADA Suit Over Denial of Transfer for Disabled Employee

Evidently this hospital in Indiana lost sight of the requirement under federal law to consider a transfer for an employee whose disability keeps her from doing her current job.

St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc. will pay $15,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a lawsuit disability discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday. The EEOC had charged that the hospital violated federal law when it failed to provide its employee with a reasonable accommodation of a transfer to a vacant position for which she was qualified.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, when St. Vincent learned that Latoya Moore’s lifting restrictions caused by her disabilities were indefinite, St. Vincent required Moore to take leave at reduced pay, even though she wanted to continue working. Instead of transferring Moore to vacant positions she was qualified for and could perform, St. Vincent fired her, the EEOC charged.

The EEOC brought the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual because of disabilities. Under the ADA, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability unless the employer can demonstrate the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. Transfer to a vacant position for which the employee is qualified can be a reasonable accommodation. The case (EEOC v. St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3426-RLY-DML) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division on Sept. 26, 2017.

Under a consent decree settling the suit, entered by the court on May 24, St. Vincent will pay Moore $15,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages. In the future, the hospital will be required to notify employees whose disabilities prevent them from performing the essential functions of their existing positions that reassignment to a vacant position for which they are qualified is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. St. Vincent will also be required to provide training on the ADA’s requirements to appropriate personnel, and submit annual compliance reports to the EEOC during the decree’s two-year term.

“This lawsuit demonstrates that employers should be aware of their obligation to provide a transfer as a reasonable accommodation for employees who are qualified individuals with disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird.

The EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and western Ohio, with field offices in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Detroit.