Here are four recent cases in which the Department of Labor went after companies for ADA violations. These settlements are far lower than if private counsel were litigating the suits and interested in a big jury verdict (which average more than $200,000):
EEOC Sues Tideland EMC for Disability Discrimination
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Tideland Electric Membership Corporation for not accommodating an employee, and then firing him because of his disability. The employee takes a legally prescribed narcotic medication to manage a chronic pain condition. After learning about this, Tideland EMC terminated the employee, without giving him time to change his medication regimen to keep his employment. The Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws discrimination against an employee based on a disability.
ENGlobal to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit
ENGlobal Engineering, Inc., a Texas-based engineering firm, will pay $100,000 and additional remedial relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit by the EEOC. ENGlobal unlawfully fired an employee because it mistakenly assumed that his multiple sclerosis would limit his ability to work.
Retailer Finish Line Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
Indiana-based retailer Finish Line, Inc. agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit by the EEOC. Finish Line refused to grant an employee with a physical impairment a transfer to an available CSR position as a reasonable accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to accommodate employees reasonably with disabilities, as long as the accommodation doesn’t cause an undue hardship.
Surveying Company to Pay $77,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc. (Ellicott City, MD) will pay $77,000 and other remedial relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The company illegally discriminated against and fired an employee of 15 years after finding out that the employee had diabetes and high blood pressure.
The first thing to notice about these cases is the breadth of claims: A change in medication, a perceived MS disability, a shoulder injury, and diabetes. What’s more, the courts rejected the employers’ argument that many of the workers involved were “poor performers.”
Bottom Line: Learn how to manage poor performers who might have a disability, in a way that doesn’t land you in court!