Posts Tagged ‘reasonable accommodation’

Security Co. Settles ADA Claim For $90K; Denial of Additional Medical Leave Was Issue for EEOC

Another employer has tripped up on the ADA requirement to provide additional leave for an employee who was undergoing medical treatment.

G4S Secure Solutions, Inc., a security company in Hawaii, will pay $90,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced September 4.

The charge made to the EEOC alleged that G4S violated federal law when it failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for one of its employees, a security guard who required additional leave while undergoing medical treatment. In lieu of additional leave, G4S fired the security guard. The EEOC investigated the allegations and found reasonable cause to believe that G4S Secure Solutions failed to provide a reasonable accommodation and terminated the employee while on medical leave, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During its investigation, the EEOC also identified a class member who was also discriminated against due to his disability.

Without admitting liability, G4S agreed to enter into a two-year conciliation agreement with EEOC and the alleged victims, thereby avoiding litigation. Aside from the monetary relief, the company agreed to hire an outside equal employment opportunity consultant to revise its current policies to include a comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy and to conduct effective training for all employees across the state of Hawaii on the ADA. The EEOC will monitor compliance with this agreement.

“Employees have the right to an accommodation for their disabilities under the ADA, and a leave of absence is one such accommodation,” said Rosa Viramontes, district director of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii. “I commend G4S Secure Solutions for its early resolution of the EEOC charge, thereby avoiding litigation for all parties.”

Glory Gervacio Saure, director of the Honolulu local office, added, “Engaging in the interactive process is vital to providing a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The EEOC is encouraged by the commitment G4S is making through training and policies to create a workplace that is inclusive to people with disabilities.”

According to the company’s website, www.g4s.us, G4S provides integrated security solutions including risk consulting, software and technology, systems integration and security officers. G4S’s U.S. headquarters is in Jupiter, Fla.

EEOC Lauds Coca-Cola for Improvements to Company’s Reasonable Accommodation Policies

Employees with disabilities at Coca-Cola Refreshments USA Inc. should get a fairer shake going forward on their reasonable accommodation requires.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc., have entered into a settlement agreement to strengthen and improve the company’s policies and practices for accommodation of employees with disa­bilities, the federal agency announced August 23. The settlement resolves nine charges of discrim­ination alleging that the company failed to properly accommodate employees with disabilities.

As part of the agreement, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc. will update its policies and pro­cedures to improve accommodations provided to employees returning to work after disability-related absences. The company will also establish a dedicated accommodation and leave manage­ment team to provide assistance to its employees.

The agreement also provides monetary payments totaling $2.25 million to those individ­uals who filed charges of discrimination, and annual financial support to selected “non-profit entities dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities find and keep employment.” The agreement was reached as part of the informal conciliation process which is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to foster early resolution of alleged violations without resorting to litigation.

“This is a strong agreement that will improve policies and practices for individuals with disabilities and sets an example for many employers to follow,” said Victoria A. Lipnic, Acting Chair of the EEOC. “I commend Coca-Cola Refreshments USA and the EEOC staff in our Denver and Phoenix offices for bringing this matter to a successful resolution. I especially commend Coca-Cola Refreshments for agree­ing to make the terms of this agreement public.”

Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that people receive the full protections of the ADA and other civil rights laws, and we are pleased that Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc. was willing to work with us to improve its ADA com­pliance practices. In doing so, we are confident that the company will be rewarded with retaining a dedi­cated and effective work­force.”

Brian Sasadu, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc., added, “One of our guiding principles as an organization is to treat everyone with respect and fairness and create an inclusive work environment that values the contributions of everyone. We are pleased that we have been able to work collaboratively with the EEOC to strengthen our disability leave policies to reflect best practices from inside and outside our business system.”

The EEOC’s Denver Office is part of the agency’s Phoenix District, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

$100K Settlement in ADA Suit Vs. Home Depot

Had Home Depot given this employee an emergency break, it might have saved itself alot of money.

Home Depot, the large national home improvement retailer, has agreed to pay a former employee $100,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced August 16.

According to the EEOC, Home Depot failed to provide an emergency break to an employee with irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia at its Peru, Ill., store. Instead of accommodating the employee, Home Depot fired her for allegedly violating company policy by leaving her post unattended, the federal agency charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities.

The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. The Home Depot/Home Depot, U.S.A, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-06990, on Sept. 28, 2017, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The consent decree, entered by Judge Robert Gettleman on August 16, 2018, prohibits disability discrimination and retaliation at Home Depot’s Peru store. In addition to monetary relief of $100,000, the consent decree requires Home Depot to provide training on the ADA to all managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel in the Peru store regarding their responsibilities in the reasonable accommodation process under the ADA, including the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities, policies and procedures for requesting and providing accommodations to employees for disability-related absences, and the range of potential accommodations at Home Depot facilities. Home Depot will also communicate to all other employees their rights under the ADA and provide information on whom to report requests for accommodations or disability-related complaints. Over the next two years, Home Depot will also keep a record of all accommodation requests and disability-related complaints at that store and provide a report to the EEOC every six months.

“The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities that enable them to perform their jobs,” said Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney of EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “It is regrettable that instead of working with the employee to help secure coverage of her post in the event of a disability-related emergency restroom break, Home Depot fired her when, despite her best efforts, she was unable to find coverage.”

“We are pleased with today’s settlement, which will both compensate the victim and provide ADA training to Home Depot’s employees at its Peru store,” said Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago. “Training employees on their rights and responsibilities under the ADA is an essential piece in maintaining an accessible workplace.”

EEOC Trial Attorneys Ann Henry and Kelly Bunch and Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason litigated the case against Home Depot.

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

Calif. Staffing Agency, NY Company Run Headlong Into EEOC Over Possible ADA Violation

This staffing agency and employer from opposite coasts are in trouble with the EEOC over their treatment of a temporary employee with a kidney condition.

Remedy Intelligent Staffing, LLC (Remedy), a California-based staffing firm, and Lornamead, Inc. (Lornamead), a manufacturer headquartered in New York City, violated federal law when they refused to provide reasonable accommodation to a long- term temporary employee that would have enabled him to continue to work after his kidney condition worsened and instead terminated his employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed August 1.

According to the EEOC’s suit, David Gaiser II was hired by Remedy and assigned to work as a general laborer at Lornamead, Inc.’s Tonawanda, New York facility in June 2013. During his employment, Gaiser was diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a chronic condition characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. In June 2016, Gaiser was assigned to run a machine that required continual bending and twisting, which aggravated his kidney condition and caused him severe pain. Gaiser asked for a chair to minimize his bending and twisting, but Lornamead refused.

Gaiser then provided Remedy with a note from his doctor explaining that repeated bending and twisting could exacerbate Gaiser’s kidney condition and recommending he refrain from extreme bending, twisting, or lifting, which could predispose him to a cyst rupture. Gaiser suggested several accommodations that could enable him to perform his job duties, including allowing him to sit while operating manual machines, assigning him to a different machine, or assigning him to one of the assembly lines. Instead, Lornamead directed Remedy to end Gaiser’s three-year assignment at Lornamead. Remedy failed to place Gaiser at another job with a different client.

This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Lornamead, Inc. and Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv- 00841) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo Division, after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Gaiser, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “As joint employers, Remedy and Lornamead both failed to comply with their obligations under the law, and unnecessarily deprived the employee of a job he enjoyed and performed successfully for three years.”

Kevin Berry, district director of the New York Office, said, “The ADA requires a two- way interactive process between the employer and the employee. Remedy and Lornamead rejected the options proposed by the employee and failed to offer any alternatives that would have allowed him to keep his job. Firing someone who needs an accommodation due to a disability is against the law and the EEOC will hold employers accountable.”

According to company information, Remedy is the franchise division of Employbridge, one of the largest staffing firms in the world with over 490 locations. Lornamead, part of the Li and Fung group, manufactures and distributes hair care, skin care, oral care, and bath products to retailers throughout North America.

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

Good Number: Phone Co. Settles ADA Suit

A deaf employee at a west coast phone company is getting a new chance to do his job with a reasonable accommodation from the company.

Pacific Bell  Telephone Company, formerly known as AT&T Pacific Bell, will pay $15,000  and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought  by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 12.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit,  Pacific Bell violated federal law when it did not effectively accommodate a  deaf employee at its Fresno, Calif., location. Despite the employee’s numerous  requests for a sign language interpreter, managers chose to provide inadequate  accommodations for the worker by standing close to him during meetings so he  could read their lips, or by jotting down notes explaining the contents of the  meeting after the fact. The EEOC contends that such behavior deprived the  worker of equal employment opportunities, privileges and benefits of  employment, which negatively affected him as an employee.

Such alleged conduct violates the  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District  Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. AT&T Pacific Bell  Telephone Company, Case No. 1:17-cv-01059-LJO-EPG) after first attempting to  reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition  to monetary relief, Pacific Bell agreed to a two-year consent decree to provide  effective accommodations to the employee, and to ensure against future  incidences of discrimination against workers with disabilities. As part of the  decree, the company will provide the employee with an interpreter; ensure a  work environment free from disability discrimination, especially as it pertains  to reasonable accommodation of hard-of-hearing and deaf employees; provide  training to the employee’s immediate supervisor, subsequent supervisors, and  human resources personnel; and ensure appropriate record keeping, reporting and  monitoring of disability complaints.

“Subjecting workers to different  terms, conditions and privileges of employment because of deafness is a direct  violation of the ADA,” said Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC’s Fresno Local  Office. “The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of employees with disabilities.”

Anna Park, regional attorney for  the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California’s  Central Valley, added, “We commend Pacific Bell for its willingness to put in  place meaningful relief that will allow all employees with disabilities to  participate in all aspects of the work environment.”

Short-Sighted: Medical Center Violated ADA in Barring Employee After Vision Loss, Says EEOC

Selective application of a return-to-work policy has landed this employer in federal court opposite the EEOC.

Dignity Health, operating Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., violated federal law when it refused to provide accommodations to allow a 10-year employee to return to work after she suffered a sudden loss of vision, and instead fired her by selectively applying a previously unused vision requirement, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed July 11.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, Alina Sorling worked as a food service technician in Mercy Medical Center’s cafeteria for over ten years, performing tasks that included cashiering, grilling, cleaning and stocking. Surviving a severe illness that left her with vision loss, Sorling took an unpaid leave of absence to rehabilitate and learn non-visual techniques necessary for independent living.

After she successfully mastered everyday tasks, including cooking in her own kitchen and excellent proficiency with knife skills, Sorling sought to return to work and informed her employer of multiple accommodations that she or the California Department of Rehabilitation could provide to allow her to perform the duties of her job. Making unsupported assumptions about safety and her capacity, Dignity Health unilaterally rejected the suggestions, and cited a 20/40 vision requirement when they fired her in June 2015 – even though they had never administered a vision test in the ten years she had worked there.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees absent an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (CIV# 3:18-cv-04135) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks lost wages and expenses, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“After unexpectedly losing her vision and working incredibly hard to rehabilitate herself and learn new skills, Ms. Sorling was ready to go back to work without restrictions for an employer she had served loyally for over a decade,” said William Tamayo, the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office Director. “Instead of allowing her to demonstrate her abilities, Dignity Health excluded her due to fixed assumptions about her disability and limitations. Congress enacted the ADA to combat exactly this type of injustice.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Roberta Steele noted, “Rather than relying on stereotypes, we should consider the successful examples of blind and low-vision individuals employed in food service workplaces such as through the California Business Enterprise Program, authorized and funded by federal legislation, and which trains and places blind and visually impaired participants in food service environments.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi added, “The ADA requires a two-way interactive process between the employer and employee. Yet, without providing alternatives, Dignity Health rejected the multiple possibilities Ms. Sorling proposed. Even when she offered to bring in a paid analyst to assess the job site and recommend accommodations, Dignity Health turned her down, and instead chose to fire her based on her impairment and an unjustifiable vision standard. The EEOC is empowered and proud to fight for the rights of people like Alina Sorling.”

According to company information, Dignity Health, headquartered in San Francisco, is the fifth-largest health system in the United States and comprises more than 60,000 caregivers and staff, delivering care to communities across 21 states. Dignity Health is the largest hospital provider in California and operates Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where Sorling worked for ten years before she was fired.

ADA Reasonable Accommodation Rule Violated by Focus on Intermittent Leave, EEOC Alleges

This employer had a my-way-or-the-highway approach on reasonable accommodation, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)–and as a results finds itself in court.

Major health  insurance provider Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA) violated federal  law when it denied intermittent leave to a class of employees with disabilities  without discussing other possible reasonable accommodation options. This  blanket policy forced emp­loyees to either work without an accommodation or  resign, the EEOC charged in a  lawsuit filed June 28.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit,  beginning in late 2013, HMSA abruptly changed its policy on the use of  intermittent leave as an accommodation for employees with disabilities. In  addition to not allowing employees this accommodation, HMSA failed to engage in  the interactive process with its employees to determine if there was another  accommodation available for them. Instead, the company gave employees an  ultimatum of either working without an accommodation or resigning, the EEOC  said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans  with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the  District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Hawaii Medical Service Association Case No. 1:18-cv-00253) after  first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay along with compensatory and punitive  damages for the claimant and class, as well as injunctive relief intended to  prevent and address discrimination.

“Employers  should be cognizant of the reasonable accommodation requirements under federal  law,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District,  which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “Employers who fail to try to reach  such an accommodation arrangement are opening themselves to possible EEOC  action.”

Glory Gervacio Saure, director for  the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “Blanket employment policies that  negatively affect a group of individuals can be discriminatory. Employers  should routinely audit their policies and practices to make sure they are not unlawfully  discriminating against their employees.”

According  to its website, www.hmsa.com, Hawaii Medical  Service Association is one of Hawaii’s largest coverage providers, insuring  over half of Hawaii’s population. HMSA is an independent licensee of Blue Cross  and Blue Shield Association.