Posts Tagged ‘employee with bipolar disorder’

Indigestion: Firing Employee for Taking Medication Costs KFC Franchise $30K

You can’t make an employee choose between taking her prescribed medication and keeping her job. You’ve got to make a reasonable accommodation for the employee.

Hester Foods, Inc., the operator of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Dublin, Ga., will pay $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Feb 1.

The EEOC filed suit in 2017, charging that Hester Foods’ owner violated federal law by firing restaurant manager Cynthia Dunson in July 2015 when he found out that she was taking medications prescribed by her doctor for her bipolar disorder. The restaurant owner referred to Dunson’s medications in obscene terms, the EEOC said, and made her destroy her medications by flushing them down a toilet at the restaurant. When Dunson later told the owner that she planned to continue taking the medications per her doctor’s orders, the owner told her not to return to work and fired her.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-000340-DHB-BKE) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary damages to Dunson, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Hester Foods to create and disseminate a handbook containing policies that prohibit discrimination. The decree also requires that the company provide annual equal employment opportunity training to its managers, supervisors, and employees. The two-year decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to EEOC about disability discrimination complaints.

“Federal laws protect employees whose disabilities require them to take medications and employers must make accommodation for those requirements,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “Employers are not allowed to force workers with disabilities to choose between their jobs and their health. Reasonable accommodation includes allowing workers to rely on their physicians, not on the opinions of the company managers.

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Employer Pays $25K to Settle EEOC Suit Alleging It Discriminated Against Worker Who Was Bipolar

A home healthcare company recently settled an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of an employee who had bipolar disorder.

AccentCare, Inc., a home healthcare company headquartered in Dallas, has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Friday. The EEOC charged in its suit that AccentCare discriminated against an employee with bipolar disorder.

According to the EEOC’s suit, an AccentCare IT analyst informed the company that she has bipolar disorder and requested leave in order to see her health care provider. The EEOC further said that upon learning of the employee’s disability and receiving her request for leave, AccentCare fired her within one day, without giving proper consideration to her request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ disabilities as long as it does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-03157) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the case, AccentCare, Inc. will pay $25,000 in monetary relief to the former IT analyst. AccentCare also agreed to post a notice about the settlement, and to provide training for employees on the ADA to include instruction on the specific provisions of the reasonable accommodation process. The training will include an instruction advising managers and supervisors of the potential consequences for violations of the ADA. Additionally, AccentCare has agreed to document complaints of disability discrimination and report to the EEOC.

“It has always been our contention that AccentCare demonstrated a reckless disregard for the federally protected rights of this valuable employee, rather than carefully considering her request for leave to see her doctor,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “We would expect that employers in the health care field would be keenly aware of the importance of supporting the medical needs of their employees by allowing reasonable time that may be required for treatment. We are pleased with the resolution of this case.”