Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

ADA Violation Alleged in Employer’s Refusal to Permit Post-Surgical Employee to Use Crutches

Knee surgery is prevalent enough that an employer should expect to accommodate an employee who needs some assistance to keep working.

But apparently not in this case.

Employer Solutions Group., LLC (ESG), a payroll servicing company head­quartered in Eden Prairie, Minn., violated federal law by firing an employee because she needed crutches after surgery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee, who worked as an account manager, needed to use crutches for a short time after she returned to work following her surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), part of the knee joint. The EEOC charged that ESG discriminated against the employee based on her actual and perceived disability, and in retaliation for her request to work with crutches.

Firing an employee because of a real or perceived disability, or because the employee requested a reasonable accommodation, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed its lawsuit, EEOC v. Employer Solutions Group, LLC, Case No. 0:19-cv-02315, in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

“The issue here was so minor,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the Chicago district office. “This employee needed to use crutches for a short time after returning from short-term disability leave. The employer fired her for it, which was inappropriate, short-sighted and unlawful.”

Greg Gochanour, regional attorney for the Chicago district, added, “Employers must remember that even relatively short-termed impairments can be recognized as disabilities under the law if they are sufficiently severe, which they were here. The employer’s decision to fire its account manager because she needed crutches for a few weeks is just inexplicable as well as illegal.”

The EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office is part of the agency’s Chicago District Office, which is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimin­ation, admin­istrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

EEOC Recovers $100K for Struggling Deaf Employees at D.C. Wal-Mart in ADA Settlement

This store in the nation’s capital has some remediation to do to allow two deaf employees to do their jobs.

Wal-Mart Stores East, LP will pay $100,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Monday.

The EEOC charged that Wal-Mart Stores East, LP refused to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters and closed-captioned training videos, to two deaf employees who worked at Walmart Store No. 5941 in Northwest Washington, D.C. The employees were entitled to reasonable accommodations so they could obtain information from, and participate in, meetings, trainings and other workplace communications, the EEOC said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on an individual’s disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-2799) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying $100,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Walmart Store No. 5941 from violating the ADA, including engaging in unlawful retaliation. Walmart Store No. 5941 has also agreed to revise its reasonable accommodations Management Guidelines, provide live training to management employees on the ADA’s reasonable accommodations requirements, and address issues related to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, and provide training to all non-management employees on the ADA and the process for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Walmart Store No. 5941 will also post a notice about the settlement and report to the EEOC about its compliance with the consent decree.

“This settlement should encourage all employers to provide reasonable accommodations that allow equal access for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and applicants to engage fully in the workplace,” said Acting Washington Field Office District Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and appli­cants with effective accommodations so they can participate in workplace communications and have equal employment opportunities.”

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.

EEOC Recover $125K in Settlement for Woman Forced From Job After Disclosing Her Pregnancy

This employer learned the hard way that forbidding a pregnant employee to continue working has its costs.

The Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc. and Sunrise Beach Corporation, doing business as M2 Services Corporation, have agreed to pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Day & Zimmermann and M2 violated federal law by subjecting a pregnant employee to discrimination, forcing her to take an unpaid leave of absence upon learning that she was pregnant, and ultimately firing her because of her pregnancy.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the M2 employee was an aircraft worker cleaner, responsible for cleaning aircraft parts. In January 2016, the employee advised M2 that she was pregnant. Almost immediately thereafter, M2 placed her on an involuntary and unpaid leave of absence, claiming that she needed to obtain medical authorization before returning to work. Even after her medical provider cleared her, M2 refused to allow her to return to work and, in February 2016, M2 fired her, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act adds that Title VII includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on pregnancy and related medical conditions.

In addition to the $125,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides for extensive injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from sex discrimination in all of its forms, and pregnancy discrimination in particular. This includes M2 creating and implementing a pregnancy non-discrimination policy and annual mandatory training for all managers and staff by a subject matter expert approved by the agency. Both the policy and training will address discrimination based on unreasonable notions, assumptions and/or stereotypes about pregnant women. M2 must also post a notice referencing this lawsuit and consent decree, advising employees of their rights. Addition­ally, M2 will provide a job reference for its former employee.

“This settlement reflects the EEOC’s ongoing commitment to protecting women against sex and pregnancy discrimination at work,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District, which includes Jacksonville within its jurisdiction. “Employment decisions based on paternal­istic notions or stereotypes about pregnancy will not be tolerated.”

Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC’s Miami District, said, “Pregnancy discrimination is simply unacceptable. The EEOC remains steadfast in its mission to eradicate it from the workplace.”

The EEOC’s litigation effort was led by Trial Attorney Robert L. Adler.

Software Co. Forks Over $80K to Settle ADA Suit Over Firing of Employee in Addiction Program

Firing an employee because he or she is seeking treatment for an opiate addiction is apt to backfire on the employer.

SoftPro, LLC, a Delaware software company headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., will pay $80,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Matthew Elliott worked for SoftPro in an IT position at the company’s Raleigh headquarters. Elliott, an individual with a record of opiate addiction, participated in physician-supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for the addiction since 2009. In February 2017, Elliott took leave from SoftPro and voluntarily admitted himself to an inpatient treatment facility to elimin­ate the need for MAT. Elliott successfully completed the inpatient treatment and returned to work. Upon his return to work, Elliott was questioned by SoftPro about the purpose of his leave. Elliott disclosed his recent participation in a treatment program to eliminate his need for ongoing MAT. SoftPro fired Elliott on Feb. 27, 2017 because it perceived him as disabled, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their disabilities, including perceived dis­abilities and records of disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. SoftPro, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-00463) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Thereafter, Elliott joined in the suit individually with his own counsel.

In addition to the $80,000 in damages, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires that SoftPro revise, implement and distribute personnel policies to state that the com­pany does not exclude employees based on their participation in a medication-assisted treatment program. The company must also provide annual training to its human resources team, managers, supervisors, and employees; post a notice to employees relating to the settlement; and report to the EEOC all negative employment actions the company takes against employees who have a record of substance abuse disorder or who are currently participating in, or have successfully completed, a drug rehabilitation program.

“Employees in recovery and actively participating in treatment should not fear losing their jobs,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC will continue to litigate cases where people with disabilities are terminated based on fears and assumptions about the work they can perform.”

Cooking Camp Alters Recipe for ADA Compliance

Were this after-school cooking camp on Chopped, the TV show that features chefs handling mystery ingredients, it would have been chopped for its lack of ADA compliance.

But that’s about to change, thanks to federal intervention.

Educational after-school camp Cooking Round the World (CRW) will pay $3,000 to a former employee and make substantial workplace changes to settle a disa­bility discrim­ination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced August 7.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a chef educator employed by the camp received a positive test result for an inactive form of tuberculosis (TB) in March 2017. Although the employee provided a doctor’s certification permitting her to work in a school environment and as a medical assistant, her employer insisted that she could not continue teaching young children. Instead, CRW offered her fewer hours for less pay working at a recruitment table passing out leaflets promoting its programs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on a disability or a perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit (CIV# 4:18-cv-05880) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after an investiga­tion by EEOC Investigator Bryan Hoss and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit provides $3,000 in emotional distress and compen­satory damages to the former employee and requires CRW to develop and implement EEO policies, procedures and training. The camp will provide anti-discrimination training to both managers and hourly staff; make available its EEO policy to all employees and applicants; report to the EEOC all com­plaints of disability discrimination it receives from its employees for the next 18 months; and post a notice for employees about the consent decree and the employees’ rights under federal law.

“This young woman loved her job and was performing it successfully until she was denied a chance to continue despite the fact that her doctor’s certification that she was non-contagious and cleared to continue working with children,” said William Tamayo, the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office director. “We are glad that this employer agreed to work with the EEOC to resolve this case.”

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Debra Smith said, “We commend CRW for demonstrating its commitment to doing the right thing and ensuring that, going forward, qualified workers will not be held back by harmful stereotypes and biases about disability. And it’s important to note that the ADA protects qualified workers who are perceived as having a disability, in addition to those who actually do have a disability or a record of one.”

According to company information, CRW is an educational, after-school and summer cooking camp with programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, with headquarters in Oakland.

$285K Settlement Ends EEOC Suit for Sexual Harassment Against Elmhurst, NY Supermarket

Working at this New York supermarket was a nightmare for these two female employees, but the supermarket paid up big in the end also.

82-10 Baxter  Ave. Food Corp., doing business as Foodtown, will pay $285,000 and furnish  other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Tuesday.

According to EEOC’s  lawsuit, a department manager of the Elmhurst, N.Y., supermarket physically and  verbally sexually harassed two female workers under his supervision at the  facility, then fired them because they resisted his advances. The harassment  included comments about their appearance, propositions for sex, forced  kissing, and other unwanted touching. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. 82-10 Baxter  Ave. Food Corp. d/b/a Foodtown (a/k/a Foodtown of Baxter Avenue) (E.D.N.Y. Case  No. 18-cv-05100) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on  Sept. 30, 2018, after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through  its conciliation process.

The three-year consent  decree resolving the case provides that, in addition to paying $285,000, the  company will adopt new policies and procedures to prevent and report sexual  harassment and will train its managers and staff on identifying and preventing  sexual harassment and retaliation. The policies and staff training will be  available in Spanish. The decree also requires that the company investigate any  complaints of sexual harassment it receives and provide copies of its  investigations to the EEOC. The EEOC will monitor the company’s compliance with  these obligations and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the next  three years.

“Employers should take  seriously their responsibility to prevent sexual harassment of their  employees,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein.  “If they don’t, the EEOC will take action, including litigation when necessary.  Many employees, especially low-wage and immigrant  workers, fear reporting sexual harassment. It took great courage for  these women to come forward and participate in this case.”

EEOC New York District Director Kevin  Berry added, “The conduct at issue in this case was egregious. We are glad the company agreed to adopt policies and  provide crucial training that will educate its workforce.”

The New York District Office of the  EEOC 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.

EEOC Collects $92K for Two Employees Denied Accommodation From Working on Their Sabbath

An employer that insists employees work on their Sabbath do so at their legal peril, as this latest case from the EEOC demonstrates.

Century Park Associates, LLC, d/b/a Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove (Century), operating a senior and assisted living community in Ooltewah, Tennessee, will pay $92,586.50 in monetary damages and agree to injunctive relief to settle a religious bias lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Century required two employees to work on their Sabbath in violation of their religious beliefs. The two employees, members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Although the employees offered to work on Sundays, Century told the employees they had to agree to work on Saturdays as part of a new work schedule. When the two employees refused to work on Saturdays due to their religious beliefs, Century asked them to resign. The two employees resigned at Century’s request.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from denying a reasonable accommodation to an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Century Park AssociatesLLC, d/b/a Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00231) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Southern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

Besides monetary relief, Garden Plaza entered into a two-year consent decree requiring Garden Plaza to train its employees, including human resources and management personnel, on the requirements of Title VII.  Garden Plaza agreed to report complaints of religious discrimination and requests for religious accommodations to the EEOC and permit the EEOC to monitor Garden Plaza’s compliance with the decree. Garden Plaza denied any liability or wrongdoing in the suit.

“Employers should not force employees to choose between their job and their religious beliefs,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office. “Making reasonable accommodations to employees’ religious beliefs, except where it poses an undue hardship, is not just reasonable.  It’s required by federal law.”

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the Memphis District Office which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi said, “when an employee tells his employer his religious belief conflicts with a work policy, the employer has an obligation under Title VII to have a conversation with the employee to determine whether it may reasonably accommodate the employee unless it causes an undue hardship.”

According to its website, Century operates over 40 retirement communities in 20 states.  It provides seniors with a comfortable and active place to call home.