The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. The following are recent cases brought about from the EEOC.
CLAYTON GROCERY SUED FOR LEARNING DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
Clayton Ranch Market, a grocery store in Clayton, NM, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to hire a qualified applicant because he had a disability, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit. The
In its suit, the EEOC stated that since at least April 2008, Clayton Ranch Market violated the ADA by failing to hire Robert Harris because of his learning disability. The EEOC filed suit in US District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Moore and Moore, Inc. and Clayton Ranch Market Inc.) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“The EEOC’s investigation revealed that Clayton Ranch Market hired people with the same or similar qualifications as Mr. Harris, yet Mr. Harris, who sought employment with the store, was neither hired or contacted about a job,” said EEOC Phoenix Acting District Director Rayford Irvin. “Employers cannot deny employment to qualified applicants because of disability.”
Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “Employment decisions made solely on a person’s disability are illegal,” added Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Employment opportunities should be made available to anyone who wants to work and who is capable of doing the job, regardless of disabilities.”
The lawsuit asks that the court order Clayton Ranch Market to provide Harris with appropriate relief (including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages), and to grant a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in disability discrimination. The EEOC also asks the court to order that the company institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.
D.R. HORTON SUED FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IN FIRING EMPLOYEE WITH SEVERE PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS
A Fortune 500 home builder and land developer which identifies itself as the nation’s largest home builder refused to accommodate an employee’s pregnancy-related disability and unlawfully fired her, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit.
The EEOC’s suit charged that D.R. Horton refused to accommodate a project manager for Horton in Kirkland, WA, when it denied her additional unpaid leave time after her doctor had placed her on bedrest for over seven months as a result of pregnancy-related complications. Although the company initially provided some leave time to the employee, it stated that any additional leave time was against company policy, even if that period of time was unpaid. The employee was later fired as a result of this circumstance.
The ADA requires that employers engage in an interactive process with employees in good faith, exploring possible accommodations for an employee’s disability. The EEOC filed suit in US District Court for the Western District of Washington after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. On behalf of the employee, the EEOC seeks monetary damages, focusing its case on anti-discrimination laws, changes in policies on accommodating employees with disabilities, posting of notices at the work site, and other injunctive relief.
“It is shocking that a company of this size would have a policy that is so rigid,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “It fails to consider its obligation under the law to discuss potential accommodations for an employee’s disability.”
“Companies that fail to engage in discussion with their employees about reasonable ways to accommodate their disabilities will lose valuable members of their work force and invite litigation,” added San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. “A company that bills itself as ‘America’s Builder’ can surely do better to ensure equal opportunity for all its workers, including those with disabilities.”
According to the company website, www.drhorton.com, D.R. Horton is the largest home builder in the United States and a Fortune 500 company with operations in 28 states and headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
ST. JOHN HEALTH SYSTEM SETTLES EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
St. John Health System, Inc., of Tulsa, OK, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The EEOC had charged that the company violated the ADA by failing to reasonably accommodate a hearing-impaired operating room scrub technician.
According to the EEOC’s suit, LaQuita Reherman had been employed by St. John for approximately six years before she was removed from her scrub technician position in March 2006 after several physicians complained about her being hard of hearing. The EEOC noted that, although Reherman wears hearing aids in both ears, she would have been able to hear doctors’ instructions if not for their practice of playing loud music in the operating room.
Reherman made it known to St. John that she needed assistance in finding another position, but the hospital made no effort to assist her. Instead, Reherman’s superiors simply put her, temporarily, into another position and told her to find a new job within the hospital system, the EEOC said. St. John terminated Reherman in June 2006 after she proved unable to find a vacant position.
Disability discrimination violates the ADA, a law which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as such accommodation do not pose an undue hardship on the business. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
Under the terms of the consent decree, filed today for approval in the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (EEOC and Reherman v. St. John Health System, Inc.), St. John agreed to pay LaQuita Reherman $100,000 in damages. The company also agreed to provide disability discrimination training to all management and supervisory employees and to report all requests for reasonable accommodation to the EEOC for the next three years.
“St. John should have done more for Ms. Reherman than tell her to locate a vacant position within the hospital system,” said Melvin Kennedy, EEOC Senior Trial Attorney. “It is encouraging that this lawsuit settled so quickly and that St. John agreed to reporting provisions in the consent decree that will allow the EEOC to monitor its future responses to reasonable accommodation requests.”
MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTION COMPANY DENIED JOB BASED ON STEREOTYPES OF PEOPLE WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
A medical transcription company in Rockville, MD, violated federal law when it refused to hire a medical transcriptionist to a full-time job because of her multiple sclerosis, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
In its suit, the EEOC said that since at least May 2006 and continuing into the present, Oracle Transcription, Inc. denied Mary Bobik a position as a full-time medical transcription editor. Oracle’s supervisor told Bobik that they didn’t want to “stress her out” with the responsibilities of a full-time position, even though she had worked at Oracle Transcription for several years and was regularly assigned to work more than 60 hours a week as a part-time editor. Bobik, who has nearly 20 years of experience as a medical transcriptionist and editor, was physically capable and willing to perform the duties, the EEOC said. Instead, Oracle Transcription ignored Bobik’s requests for a full-time job and hired other persons with less experience.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit in US District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern District, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The complaint seeks monetary and injunctive relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages and changes in employment policies to provide equal employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities.
“Many people, including Mary Bobik, have demonstrated their ability to perform their jobs just fine regardless of MS,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “She worked many long hours for Oracle and was able and willing to continue to do so.”
According to its Web site, Oracle Transcription provides medical transcription services to hospitals and medical facilities in Washington DC and throughout the country.
In fiscal year 2008, disability-based charges rose to a record 19,543, up 10.2 percent from the prior year and the highest level since 1995.