Posts Tagged ‘preemployment physical’

EEOC Sues Shipbuilder For Not Allowing Applicant to Wear Hearing Aids During Test

If you’re going to make taking a hearing test a requirement of the job, then you must allow the applicant to wear his hearing aids during the test.

An employer that failed to do that will now have to explain its behavior in a court of law.

Newport News-based shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Incorporated violated federal discrimination law when it refused to hire a pipefitter after discovering his hearing impairment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed last Wednesday, Sept. 13. The lawsuit also alleges that the company failed to provide the pipefitter with a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Stanley Dowdle, an experienced pipefitter, received a conditional offer of employment to work at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding facility in July 2013. Employment at the shipyard was contingent upon Dowdle passing a physical examination, including a hearing test. Dowdle wears hearing aids in both ears and according to the complaint, requested to be tested while wearing his hearing aids. Dowdle’s request was denied, and as a result, his job offer was rescinded because he had failed the hearing test.

The EEOC brought the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Huntington Ingalls Incorporated, Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-00113-HCM-LRL) was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, on Sept. 13, 2017. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct employment practices at the shipyard. The EEOC is also asking that the company hire Dowdle as a pipefitter.

“Employers must remember their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities – even at the hiring phase – unless doing so would cause an undue hardship,” said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “In this case, he only wanted to wear his hearing aids, which he already used. Allowing him to use his hearing aids for the purpose they were intended for wouldn’t be an unusual or burdensome request.”

According to publicly available information, with approximately $4 billion in annual revenues and more than 20,000 employees, Newport News Shipbuilding identifies itself as the largest industrial employer in Virginia and the largest shipbuilding company in the United States.

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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).

$106K Settlement Concludes ADA Suit Alleging Medical Exam Cost Applicant Permanent Job

It took more than a year to wrap up, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week obtained recompense for a job applicant who was denied a permanent job with an Oklahoma company allegedly on the basis of a questionable use of information obtained during preemployment medical exam.

The EEOC filed this Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit in February 2016 against UPCO Claremore, an Okla.-based manufacturer of sucker rods and accessories for the oil and gas industry,

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Lydia Summers began working as a temporary receptionist and assisting in the accounting department. After five months, UPCO made Summers a conditional offer of full-time, permanent employment, conditioned on Summers passing a pre-employment medical exam conducted by a third-party vendor. Following the exam, the vendor’s physician, who never examined or questioned Summers, refused to approve her for employment with UPCO because of the supposed side effects of her prescription medications. Even after Summers provided UPCO with a letter from her personal physician stating that she was not impaired by her medications, UPCO rescinded its job offer, the EEOC alleged.

The EEOC announced yesterday that UPCO has settled the lawsuit for $106,000.

To learn more about what’s allowed in preemployment examinations under the ADA, click here.

Employer Settles ADA Lawsuit Resulting From Firing of Employee Who Was Put on Medical Hold

Employers can’t outsource to third parties their legal obligation to determine whether an employee with a disability is capable of doing the job he or she was hired for.

That’s the gist of an announced settlement in an American With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Muskegon Family Care, a Michigan company.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Avis Lane worked for Muskegon Family Care as an outreach-enrollment coordinator. Before she began work, the company required that she submit to a post-offer, pre-employment physical. The medical specialist who conducted that physical recommended that Lane be put on a medical hold due to medications she was taking.

Notwithstanding the recommended medical hold, the company allowed Lane to work for over a month. Eventually, Muskegon Family Care fired her based on the recom­mended medical hold, the EEOC said.

The court granted the EEOC partial summary judgment, finding “this case presents a peculiar fact pattern that represents a textbook case for unlawful discrimination under the regarded-as-disabled prong of the ADA.”

Following that ruling, the employer chose to settle, agreeing to pay $21,500 and institute other relief to conclude the lawsuit.

EEOC: Firing of Diabetic Driver Violated ADA

A Michigan company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it fired a truck driver because his pre-employment physical revealed he had diabetes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed on July 16.

The suit alleges that Vita Plus Corporation, an agricultural company with a facility in Gagetown, Mich., violated federal law by discriminating against a truck driver because of his disability. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Vita Plus discriminated against Brian Kaczorowski because of his disability – non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

On Sept. 19, 2013, Vita Plus hired Brian Kaczorowski for a driver’s position, contingent on his passing a pre-employment physical, the EEOC alleges. Beginning on Sept. 24, Kaczorowski worked three full days for Vita Plus – in training while riding along with other drivers. On Sept. 27, Vita Plus received Kaczorowski’s pre-employment physical report, in which the examin­ing doctor wrongly assessed him as a direct threat due to his diabetes. As a result, Vita Plus fired Kaczorowski the following day.

“An employer cannot deny employment opportunities to an otherwise qualified applicant simply because a disability is discovered during a pre-employment physical,” said EEOC Detroit Field Office Trial Attorney Omar Weaver. “Nor can an employer dodge its responsibility to conduct an individualized assessment of an applicant’s ability to perform the job in question.”

To read more about the case, click here.

For more on do’s and dont’s under the ADA, here’s information from the EEOC’s web site.