September 25, 2012

Chicago Appeals Court Reinstates Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against United Airlines

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of a disability discrimination lawsuit against United Airlines. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged violations of hte Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The Court said that "reasonable accommodation" as defined by the ADA may require employers to provide employees with disabilities with "reassignment to a vacant position" when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position. This is a substantial change in the way Chicago courts have interpreted the ADA in the past.

According to published accounts United violated the ADA by refusing to place workers with disabilities in vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working. This would have seemed a reasonable accomodation. Instead the company required these employees to compete for jobs on the company website. The company's practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing their employment. So in affect the company fired employees with disabilities even though the company had available jobs that these employees could perform.

"The Court's decision will have far-reaching benefits for individuals with disabilities who strive for economic independence and want to work." said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez
September 19, 2012

Hill Country Farms Inc. Must Pay $1.3 Million To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

Hill Country Farms Inc., doing business as Henry's Turkey Service must pay $1.3 million dollars to settle a discrmiination lawsuit. The lawsuit wsa first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The main claim is that the company paid 32 workers with intellectual disabilities severely substandard wages. Can you imagine taking advantage of people in this manner.

According to published accounts the company paid a total of $65 dollars per month to disabled workers while contracted to work on an evisceration line at the plant. This is very tough work and also dangerous. However the employees should have been compensated at the average wage of $11-12 per hour, reflecting pay typically earned by non-disabled workers who performed the same or similar work. Shame on the company for doing this. Some companies just care about profits and don't care how they get them.

"This case reflects the Commission's longstanding commitment to enforce the anti-discrimination laws nationwide on behalf of all workers, including workers with intellectual disabilities and other vulnerable communities." said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez
September 14, 2012

Miles Kimball Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

Miles Kimball Company pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts deaf employee Laura Nejedlo was assigned to use a new software program for the company's computer system, but was denied her requested accommodation of a sign language interpreter for training and so could not fully utilize the new program. Under the law the employer must make a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. In this case the accommodation was very reasonable.

In a tragic turn of events Nejedlo was fired after 13 years of successful employment. It is really hard to understand how a company could treat a good employee this way. There are just no words to describe how silly and sad this is. I am happy this woman fought for her rights and didn't let the company push her around. Every employee has rights at work and they can fight back when the company engages in this type of activity.

"The recent ADA amendments have re-focused attention on providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities." said EEOC attorney John C. Hendrickson
September 6, 2012

Dura Automotive Systems Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $750,000

Dura Automotive Systems settles a discrimination lawsuit for $750,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts the company tested all employees for 12 substances, including certain legally prescribed drugs. This is a violation of the ADA. It is okay to test for illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana but the company tested for seven legal medications that were lawfully prescribed for the individuals taking them. This is just crazy and I really can't believe a company would behave this way in 2012.

Even more troubling than the testing was the fact that Dura required those employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose the medical conditions for which they were taking prescription medications. And to make matters worse, the company made it a condition of employment that the employees cease taking their prescription medications, without any evidence that the medications were affecting the employees' job performances. This is just crazy. And employees who did not stop taking medication that was prescribed by their doctors were suspended. A few stopped taking the drugs but then could not do their jobs and they were fired. The final straw happened when the company told the entire work force who tested positive under the drug tests.

"This agency will continue to enforce the ADA's prohibitions against illegal medical inquiries and examinations of employees where they are not job-related and consistent with business necessity." said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams
August 28, 2012

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $23,000

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design will pay $23,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bill Hackney. According to published accounts the company violated the employment rights of Hackney, who has an amputated leg, when it laid him off because of his disability. This would be a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Hackney had requested a reasonable accommodation and was denied. Under the law the company must make a reasonable accommodation.

The retaliation took place when the company laid Mr. Hackney off after he asked for the reasonable accommodation. If there is any negative job action after either complaining about discrimination or asking for a right under the law it is called retaliation. There are a couple of important messages here for employers. First, you should take the requests of your disabled employees seriously. The discrimination laws in place are there for a reason. Second, if you don't take the law seriously, you will end up paying a price for it. Do the right thing and make the reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA protects disabled employees in every industry, including construction." said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
August 22, 2012

Wal-Mart Pays $50,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was based on disability discrimination and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a part-time sales clerk because of her cerebral palsy. This conduct is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). As you can see by the settlement the company realizes what it did was wrong. These types of actions will cost a company money every time.

The details are as follows, Wal-Mart fired Marcia Arney rather than attempting to return her to her job following a medical leave related to her cerebral palsy. To make matters worse, she was a 22-year veteran of the company. Talk about not taking care of loyal employees. It is terrible that the company treated her this way. It is very important that employees protect their rights and don't allow big companies to push them around. There are laws in place for this very reason.

“Federal regulations explaining amendments to the ADA made it clear that many impairments, cerebral palsy among them, do not require a lengthy analysis to determine whether or not they are 'substantially limiting,' which is the standard for coverage.” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
August 16, 2012

Electric Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For$50,000

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company denied an employee a meter reader position due to an eye condition. Under the law a reasonable accommodation must be offered when hiring or promoting someone with a real disability.

The employee had a congenital eye condition resulting in blindness in one eye. However he worked for the company since 2004. He applied for the meter reading job in 2010 and the company made the unfounded presumption that he could not do the job because of his disability. However the employee had perfect vision in the other eye, was fully capable of doing the primary job duties of reading and recording changes in electric meters at different customer locations. In this case the person could do the job and therefore there was no reason to not hire the person for the job.

“People with disabilities cannot be excluded from jobs due to ill-conceived assumptions about their abilities.” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
August 14, 2012

JES Personnel Consultants Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $80,000

JES Personnel Consultants, Inc. ("JES") pays $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published documents JES refused to allow an employee to return to work because of his epilepsy. The company is located in LaSalle, Illinois and this would violate the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRC") as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A lawsuit filed by the EEOC would be based on violating Title VII and would end up in federal court.

The problem for the employee started after he had a brief epileptic seizure on his first day of work. The company allowed him to work the rest of the day, but asked him to provide a note from his doctor authorizing him to return to work after that. Even though the employee came by the next day with a note he was not permitted to work. This is not legal and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay. This type of behavior is not acceptable and not necessary.


“This case should be a reminder that employment agencies have obligations to comply with federal law against disability discrimination,” said the EEOC’s regional attorney.

July 20, 2012

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Pays $20,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed under the American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Alisha Adams applied for the position of tire builder and received a conditional offer of employment. This usually means you have the job as long as you pass a drug test and background check. However that isn't what happened here.

During Goodyear’s post-offer medical examination, Adams disclosed that she had menorrhagia, a bleeding disorder associated with her menstrual cycle. As a result of this disclosure, Goodyear required Adams to obtain medical clearances from two separate physicians who medically cleared her to work. This by itself would seem extreme and a violation of the ADA. But there is more. She started working for Goodyear but three weeks later, Adams told her supervisor that she had a bleeding disorder and was fired as a result.

“The EEOC is committed to fighting discrimination in the workplace. Employers must be careful not to make assumptions about an individual based on his or her disability.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 30, 2012

Gannett Newspaper Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $150,000

The Jackson Sun, a Gannett newspaper pays $150,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed based on the Americans With Disability Act ("ADA"). The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In my opinion it is much smarter to settle cases like this prior to them ending up in federal court. Now there is a permanent record of what occurred. In Illinois and the rest of the country, you are required by law to make a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability.

According to published accounts the newspaper fired a commercial print manager exactly one week after his return from a medical leave of absence. You would think the company would at least wait a longer period of time if they were going to pull something like this. The worker had sustained permanent spinal cord damage after back surgery. The newspaper could have accommodated the employee with minimal effort and that his termination was discriminatory.

“This situation and lawsuit, like so many others, could easily have been averted if this company had simply made a good-faith effort at a reasonable accommodation.” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams
June 25, 2012

United Road Towing Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $380,000

Chicago area based United Road Towing, Inc. pays $380,000 to settle an discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 employees involved in disability discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought the multi-count lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts the company failed to provide reasonable accommodations to a class of employees with disabilities. Under federal law a reasonable accommodation must be provided by the company at the request of an employee. An example of a reaosonable accommodation would be if an employee needed a chair with arms as opposed to one without arms.

Apparently United Road Towing had an inflexible medical leave policy and practice of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves rather bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodation. The company is based in Illinois but has offices and locations in Phoenix, San Diego, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The discrimination took place in all locations and resulted in the payment of a large amount of money.

"The purpose of the ADA is to allow persons with disabilities to be productive members of the work force,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson “A company cannot thwart this purpose by depriving disabled workers of the accom­modations they need to remain active workers.”
June 22, 2012

Bakery Settles Discrimination Case for $20,000

Savory Fare Bakery and Café pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Laura Mitchell. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Mitchell had a speech and hearing impediment and the company denied her job training or a promotion because of this. You may not treat a person different just because they have a disability.

The actions of the bakery violated Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). This poor woman was a dishwasher and wanted to be promoted to cashier after working hard for the company. Instead of promoting her, she was forced to quit when the work environment became unbearable. Forcing someone to quit is called a constructive discharge. By not allowing her to train and then get promoted to the new position the company also created a hostile work environment for Mitchell.

“Employers must make employment decisions based upon the abilities of their applicants and employees, not based on myths, fears or stereotypes about a person’s disability." said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
June 20, 2012

John Hopkins Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. ("JHHCG") pays $160,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts JHHCG violated the ADA when it discriminated against an employee because of her disability--breast cancer. The complaint also alleged the company failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability. If that were not bad enough the company also engaged in retaliation when she filed her EEOC complaint.

The employees name was Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered nurse. Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer and her medical treatment required that she take leave shortly thereafter. Following Fisher’s period of leave, when she was cleared to return to work, JHHCG failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to return to work despite her limited restrictions – restrictions that were progressively phased out.

“Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, millions of women are surviving breast cancer today,” said EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence

Continue reading "John Hopkins Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000" »

June 9, 2012

Stevens Transport Pays $50,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Stevens Transport pays $50,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlment talks broke down. This happens in many cases. The settlement talks will end and then once the case is actuallly filed and the other side has to start paying attorney fees to defend; they decide to just settle the case. In this tight job market many employers feel they can flex their muscles and do as they please regardless of the law.

According to published accounts Andrew Scott, a paraplegic was denied employment for two management positions because of his disability. Scott had a bachelor’s degree in economics and management and a master’s degree in business administration and was initially contacted by Stevens Transport after posting his resume on a job search website. This would indicate he held the qualifications for the job. Scott was interviewed over the telephone and then offered an in-person interview. When he arrived at the interview, however, the company became aware of his disability and told him that there was some concern he would not be able to keep up with the pace of operations. He was not hired for either position and the EEOC complaint followed.

“Mr. Scott was very disappointed that Stevens stopped considering him as a viable candidate once they saw he was in a wheelchair.” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
June 5, 2012

Hospital Settles ADA Lawsuit For $95,000

Children’s Hospital Colorado pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The problem began when the hospital discriminated against a job applicant due to her disability, fibromyalgia.

Cecilia McMurray applied for a staff assistant position with the hospital. After three interviews, McMurray was offered the position of staff assistant II, contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment health screen. However after the exam the hospital withdrew its offer of employment to McMurray. This is a clear violation of the ADA. You cannot subject someone to a physical exam unless the job requires it and the results of the exam show the person cannot perform the job. So for example if you were applying for the position of crain operator and you couldn't see well enough to operate the crane, they could not give you the position. But if you applied for a job as a clerk and you had bad viens that didn't affect your job they could not refused to hire you.

“The ADA is a complicated statute, and an employer’s obligations with respect to post-offer medical exams are particularly complex,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
June 2, 2012

Power Company Settles ADA Discrimination Lawsuit For $49,500

Garney Construction Co. and Georgia Power Company pays $49,500 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and claimed a violation of the Americans With Disability Act ("ADA"). Published accounts allege the company offered a front-end loader job to Bryan Mimmovich at its construction site. Mimmovich had worked twice before in the same job at the same company. The problem arose when the company required him to pass several physical examinations even though the examinations are not required by law.

Mimmovich was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12 and, at the time he applied for the job, had been seizure-free with medication for over eight years. He was not able to pass the examinations and Garney subsequently withdrew the job offer, citing contractual requirements with Georgia Power. This is the reason Georgia Power is in the lawsuit. They were putting contractual requirements that violated the ADA. Under the law there needs to be an individualized assessment of the job applicants ability to perform the work.

“Refusing to hire a qualified job applicant with epilepsy, long controlled by medication, defies logic and violates the law if an employer does not determine, after performing an individualized assessment of the applicant, that the applicant is a threat to the health and safety of himself or others,” said EEOC attorney Barbara A. Seely
May 31, 2012

Health Partners Inc. Settles EEOC Lawsuit For $25,000

Health Partners, Inc., pays $25,000 to settle an Americans WIth Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The disability discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts Health Partners refused to allow an employee to start working after she tested positive for tuberculosis on a preliminary skin test. Now at first glance one would say this sounds like a good idea so that other employees don't get sick. However, she was not contagious and did not pose a direct health risk to the other employees.

The company claims it settled the case because it did not wish to engage in protracted litigation. However, another reason could be that they would have lost the case at trial and would have to pay even more money in damages and also in legal fees. In addition to the money they paid Health Partners agreed to a two-year consent decree which requires it to give ADA training those employees responsible for hiring.

“The agency’s two-year consent decree provides complete relief to the employee, and also provides protections to future employees,” said EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell “We commend Health Partners for making this commitment to train its hiring personnel at such an early stage in this case.”
May 30, 2012

Pioneer Place Assisted Living Pays $80,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Pioneer Place Assisted Living settled an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $80,000 recently. According to published accounts Pioneer refused to hire Pamila Bourasa for a cook position even though Bourasa had already completed a positive interview and had discussed a start date. The issue of her disability arose when she needed to pass a drug test before beginning work and she mentioned that she had epilepsy and was taking a prescription medication that would show up on the drug test.

The sad fact is that Bourasa quit her other job and then Pioneer rejected her because of drug test results.The ADA prohibits employers from using selection standards or criteria which screen out people with disabilities. This case was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after first trying to resolve the matter through settlement. Once the case was filed, the company decided to settle. This happens often as the large legal bills start to come in and the company can see they did something wrong.

“This was a devastating experience for me but I am glad to put this behind me,” said Bourasa “My whole life I have been faced with people not understanding epilepsy and making incorrect assumptions based on fear and stereotypes."
May 13, 2012

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With LP For $60,000

LP settles an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $60,000. The ADA lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jason O'Dell who was applying for an job with LP. According to published accounts, LP refused to hire O’Dell, because of his disability, Asperger’s syndrome. In case you don't know this is a medical condition that is an autism spectrum disorder. You cannot hire someone because of a disability. The ADA has been on the book for a long time, so it's hard to believe the company did not train its' employees better.

Based on his qualifications for the lab technician position he sought, Randstad, the hiring manager had originally fast-tracked O’Dell’s participation in the hiring process. However, as soon as his medical condition came to light, O’Dell was told that the lab technician position had been put “on hold,” and he was not hired. You can't do that to a potential employee. It was obvious that he was being denied the position because of his disability.

“Employers must make employment decisions based on the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job, not uninformed prejudices or irrational fears,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
May 2, 2012

Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc. Settles ADA Lawsuit For $80,000

A cement company called Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc. pays $80,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Eliud Tafoya. Tafoya was a cement driver with a neck impairment. The company refused to make a reasonable reasonable accommodation. Specifically, Tafoya requested to be exempt from cleaning the inside of the concrete barrel of his truck once a year, or in the alternative, to use the jackhammer, which was used to remove the excess concrete, in a downward motion, as opposed to the typical upward, overhead motion. This was a very reasonable request however the company refused it.

According to published accounts Tafoya safely performed his job duties for two and a half years of employment, and it wasn’t until he requested that reasonable accommodation that he was immediately sent home on unpaid leave and eventually terminated. This was a violation of the ADA and will cost a company money every time. It is very important that people realize their rights to be free from discrimination while they are employed. Companies don't have a right to subject you to violations of the law. Violating the ADA is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The EEOC will continue to diligently enforce federal law to ensure that people with disabilities are free from harassment or discrimination in the workplace,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC attorney.
April 11, 2012

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit For $125,000

Resources for Human Development, Inc. ("RHD") pays $125,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Lisa Harrison. According to published accounts, Harrison worked as a prevention specialist for RHD and was fired on September of 2007. RHD violated the ADA when it fired Harrison because of her disability, severe obesity, even though she was able to perform the essential functions of her job. In a very tragic event, Harrison died before the case was settled and therefore she was not able to see justice prevail.

In this case the court concluded that severe obesity may qualify as a disability regardless of whether it is caused by a physiological disorder, rejecting RHD’s argument to the contrary. This is an important point that employees should realize. Employment rights for employees are increasing in Chicago and when in doubt if you are being discriminated against contact an employment lawyer. To bolster the case that obesity is the result of a physical disorder the EEOC offered an expert renowned in the field of obesity researcher. He concluded that Harrison’s obesity was the result of a physical disorder or disease, and was not caused by lack of character or willpower.

“All people with a disability who are qualified for their position are protected from unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
April 5, 2012

Personal Touch Home Care Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Personal Touch Home Care pays $35,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. According to court documents, Pamula Calfee was fired because of her disabilities. The disabilities included renal failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. An employer has to make a reasonable accommodation for someone who has a disability. Calfee was employed for many years and had no problems performing her job.

It is unfortunate that employers still don't treat employees correctly. Employees have rights and when those rights are taken away, employment lawyers can file discrimination claims with agencies like the EEOC. In Chicago, I prefer to file claims like this with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The advantage of filing with the IDHR is that they cross-file with the EEOC on overlapping claims and they investigate within one-year. The EEOC usually doesn't investigate discrimination claims within one-year. This case is a good illustration of why an employer should just make reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee.

“Treating an employee badly based on a physical impairment violates the very core of the ADA, and the EEOC will continue to fight for the rights of disability discrimination victims,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young.
March 24, 2012

Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc. Settles EEOC Lawsuit

Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc., pays $50,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Amy Smith. According to published accounts, the company denied a reasonable accommodation to Smith shortly after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability. In this case the company failed to do so and it cost them a fairly large amount of money.

Smith had been employed since as a telephone operator and did such a good job she was promoted to an accounts payable position. That is when her trouble with the company started. She was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She disclosed her disorder to the office manager and assistant manager and remarkably she was subjected to hostile conduct. The conduct included comments like “pill popper” and “psycho.” To make matters worse Smith was on a medical leave of absence and under a doctor’s care and the company fired her.

“The work force includes many people with psychiatric disabilities who face employment discrimination because of their conditions, which are stigmatized or misunderstood,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
February 29, 2012

Tyson Foods Pays $35,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Tyson Foods, Inc. pays $35,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mark White. According to published accounts Tyson Foods refused to hire former employee White because he had epilepsy. Talk about having a narrow mind. Perhaps these folks at Tyson should take a class on humanity. According to published accounts White applied for an open maintenance job. White’s epilepsy had been controlled by medication for twelve years and he had been previously employed by Tyson on two occasions during this time period. I guess a twelve year track record isn't good enough for Tyson.

In order to not hire White, Tyson instituted a new medical assessment procedure and refused to hire him because he did not pass a medical evaluation required for applicants with epilepsy. The doctor who performed the evaluation for Tyson did not examine White, but relied on outdated medical research in determining that he could not safely perform the job. To makes matters worse and to show the discrimination the EEOC showed that Tyson employed several other persons with epilepsy who had been grandfathered in. So Tyson did not grandfather in White which showed unequal terms and conditions of employment based on his disability.

“The potentially three-step medical assessment process agreed to by the parties is an extraordinary step in the right direction in terms of making sure disabled employees are given a full and fair opportunity to compete in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy.
February 16, 2012

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $40,000

Product Fabricators, Inc. pays $40,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") on behalf of Dennis Anderson. According to published accounts Product Fabricators fired long-time employee Anderson because he was taking a low-dosage, prescribed narcotic medication for back pain. Heaven forbid someone try and live pain free. This kind of behavior by a company is crazy and unprofessional. Can you imagine the company wanted Mr. Anderson to have to work in pain?

To show how creepy this company is they even required all employees to report whether they were taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication. This crazy policy is a violation of the ADA because it is not related to the ability of employees to do their jobs. This sounds like something out of a big brother movie. I really can't believe a company would have a policy like this. I am happy to report the EEOC held this company accountable for violating federal law. This just goes to show you that if you don't let a company push you around you can be rewarded with a nice paycheck.

“Requiring all employees to report their legal use of prescription drugs – and even over-the-counter medication – amounts to an unreasonable invasion of privacy, whether an employee is disabled or not,” said EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson.
February 9, 2012

Buy Rite Thrift Store Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Buy Rite Thrift Store pays $50,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a worker who had epilepsy. It is outrageous the way the company treated this man. According to accounts which have been published Buy Rite illegally fired a stocker on the night shift who had epilepsy after he experienced mild seizures at work. Talk about being cold and uncaring. How would you like to be employed by a company like this. This type of treatment of a worker is remarkable.

You would think the company would request the worker take a fitness exam or provide medical documentation of his ability to perform the job duties required of his position. Instead the thrift shop without any proof determined the employee was a danger to himself and others, and terminated his employment. This type of activity is illegal and ended up costing the company a good chunk of change. The EEOC made sure this company paid for what it did.

“It was a hard blow to lose my job because of my employer’s response to my epilepsy,” said the worker. “For 17 years, I have done similar work before as a stocker and cashier at a grocery store. Having mild seizures at work never stopped me from getting my job done successfully.”
February 8, 2012

Professional Media Corporation Pays $58,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Professional Media Corporation pays $58,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an employee who had multiple medical disorders. According to published accounts Professional Media Corporation had a policy of forcing employees to sign a “health warranty” certifying their health and that they did not use medications. This type of activity by a company is crazy, unprofessional and as it turns out illegal.

Additionally the company harassed and then unlawfully fired an employee who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") and Auditory Processing Disorder ("ADP"). The company was trying to get rid of employees who may end up costing them money in medical bills. It is very creepy that a company would single out employees who have medical conditions. I hope people learn more about this company and think twice before doing business with them or working for them. The EEOC was able to hold the company accountable for the discrimination and make them pay.

“This case shows that employers continue to make employment decisions based on uninformed prejudices and irrational fears,” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
February 6, 2012

DXP Enterprises Pays $120,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

DXP Enterprises, Inc will pay $120,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and age discrimination lawsuit. The multiple count lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Connie Brooks. According to published accounts DXP hired Brooks and then fired her a few days later after learning she had a prior back injury. When you engage in that type of behavior it is a violation of the law and will result in a lawsuit. If you are over 40 and are treated different than younger workers you can also file an age discrimination lawsuit--which is what happened here.

I really can't imagine company managers acting this way in light of current employment laws. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid companies can be. There are so many good workers out there and have prior injuries. I am glad the EEOC was able to secure a good settlement for Ms. Brooks and hopefully the company will learn a valuabe lesson about how to treat people. These employment laws are on the books for reason.

“We are pleased with this employer’s willingness to provide a prompt resolution to Ms. Brooks, as well as the company’s commitment to provide anti-discrimination training.” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
January 23, 2012

United Insurance Company of America Pays $37,500 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

United Insurance Company of America pays $37,500 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after first trying to settle with the company. According to published accounts Craig Burns was a recovering drug addict who was enrolled in a methadone treatment program for many years. In January 2010, United Insurance offered Burns a position as an insurance agent conditioned upon Burns’ passing a drug test.

The problem was Burns’ drug test showed the presence of methadone in his system. Because o this Burns submitted a letter to United Insurance from his treatment provider explaining that he was participating in supervised methadone treatment program and taking legally prescribed medication as part of the treatment. Upon receiving this information, United Insurance notified Burns that he was not eligible for hire and withdrew its offer of employment. This act is illegal and the EEOC held the company to the law.

“The ADA requires employers to make an individualized assessment of whether an individual can do the job rather than relying on fears or stereotypes,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
December 20, 2011

American Apparel Settles EEOC Lawsuit For $60,000

American Apparel, Inc., pays $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "(EEOC"). According to published accounts American Apparel fired a garment worker while he was on leave because of a disability, and thereby failed to accommodate him based upon that disability. When this type of activity takes place it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

Many times businesses will try to discipline employees based on their medical problem. There are protections in place and people should remember the law is on their side. The EEOC along with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") work hard to protect the rights of employees.

"We are pleased that American Apparel recognizes the importance of the ADA and is implementing measures to insure its full compliance with the ADA going forward.” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney.
December 15, 2011

Giant Oil Settles ADA Lawsuit With The EEOC For $190,000

D&H Company, Dodge Brothers, Inc., and Giant Oil Company of Arkansas, Inc., pays $190,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA")lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker who had seizures. According to published accounts the company denied the store leader of a reasonable accommodation after she had seizures. What makes matters worst her doctor restricted her from driving so she requested that the employer allow another employee to conduct daily competitor gasoline price surveys while she handled that employee's in-store duties.

Not only did the company not grant the request, they fired her. By not allowing this reasonable accommodation the company violated the law. The request seemed very reasonable and I don't understand why they didn't just grant it. Look at how much money it cost the company to not grant this request.

“The Commission has devoted considerable attention to ensuring compliance with the ADA through the issuance of policy and public attention,” said EEOC attorney Lopez.


September 24, 2011

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. Pays $160,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., will pay $160,000 to settle a American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged that Maxim failed to provide reasonable accommodations and ultimately discharged Anne Whitledge, director of clinical services, because she had brain cancer. Talk about a cold hearted company. Can you imagine how bad it is to be told you have brain cancer and then have the other shoe drop and have your company fire you. Cold hearted bastards. Ms. Whitledge died before the lawsuit settled so they money will go to her estate. I am so glad the EEOC held the company accountable on this one. The EEOC is vigilant about making sure this type of activity does not take place.

In addition to paying the money Maxim had to undergo discrimination training for employees and send a letter of condolences to the children of Anne Whitledge. I hope people remember this company and what they did. The company should be embarrassed treating an employee this way. It is illegal to treat an employee different because of a disability. This case is one of the more extreme examples of horrible treatment by a company. This type of employment discrimination will cost the company money and bad publicity every time.

“This was a heartbreaking case,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson “Anne Whitledge battled cancer and lost the job she loved because of it."
August 20, 2011

Starbuck Pays $75,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Starbucks will pay $75,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Elsa Sallard, a dwarf who was alleging a reasonable accommodation from the company under the ADA. Sallard was denied a job at Starbucks because of her size. Sallard applied for a job that said no experience required and she was then told she wasn't tall enough to serve coffee and work. This type of employment discrimination is not tolerated any longer around the country and in Illinois.

Sallard alleged that during the orientation training, she could use a stool or small stepladder to more easily perform some of the tasks of preparing orders and serving customers. The manager at Starbucks disregarded Sallard’s request, and on the same day Starbucks terminated her employment, claiming that she would pose a “danger” to customers and employees. Talk about being cruel and not very understanding. The company is required by law to make a reasonable accommodation if it does not present a business problem.

“Starbucks swift action to work constructively with the EEOC in this case, not only by compensating the applicant who was turned away, but by committing to additional training for other stores in the El Paso area, sends the right signal from the corporate office,” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
August 13, 2011

Woodman's Settles ADA Lawsuit For $35,000

Woodman’s Food Market’s, Inc. filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC contended that Woodman’s unlawfully fired employee because of her back condition.
Woodman’s store settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $35,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Woodman's terminated Kimberly McMillan-Goodwin, a long-term Woodman’s employee who worked as a clerk at its gas station. The reason for her termination was because she had a back condition that kept her from lifting more than ten pounds. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or be in violation of the ADA.

According to details in the lawsuit McMillan-Goodwin had successfully worked in that position with the lifting restriction for many years. The problem was Woodman’s placed McMillan-Goodwin on medical leave and then terminated her. This type of blatant activity will always result in the company paying money for discrimination. I am happy to report that the company will undergo training and the EEOC will make sure the company puts better policies in place in the future. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because they can see the harmful treatment of a fellow employee.

“This case might never have arisen if Woodman’s had had clear policies and training to guide its management and human resources employees on the requirements of the ADA,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.
August 9, 2011

Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Pays $100,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a discrimination lawsuit with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington ("JCCGW") for $100,000. According to published accounts JCCGW violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") when it demoted and fired an assistant teacher because of her hearing impairment. It is very troubling that a community center would act this way and engage in this type of discrimination against such a vulnerable person. The EEOC held this organization responsible for discrimination and hopefully in the future this type of behavior will not happen again.

The lawsuit alleged Carole Schulman satisfactorily performed her job duties as a nursery school assistant teacher at JCCGW. Schulman was able to fulfill every aspect of her job safely, with no threat to anyone. Schulman was denied an accommodation, demoted to a lower-paying position as a mail room clerk and ultimately removed from the preschool altogether because of her hearing impairment. The settlement amount is a good indication that JCCGW realized it did her wrong.

“We are pleased that the company agreed to resolve the case by providing substantial monetary relief to Ms. Schulman – and agreeing to other terms that will help protect other employees from disability discrimination,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
July 8, 2011

Verizon Communications Settles ADA Lawsuit For $20 Million

Verizon Communications pays $20 million to settle a nationwide class Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging the company unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and disciplined and/or fired them pursuant to Verizon’s “no fault” attendance plans.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit Verizon failed to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, such as making an exception to its attendance plans for individuals whose “chargeable absences” were caused by their disabilities. The company not only didn't make accommodations but disciplined or terminated employees who needed such accommodations. You can see by this large settlement amount how important it is to have good policies in place and to guard against discrimination in the workplace.


EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said “Flexibility on leave can enable a worker with a disability to remain employed and productive -- a win for the worker, the employer and the economy."

July 6, 2011

Target Settles ADA Lawsuit For $160,000

Target Corporation pays $160,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), because Target failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cart attendant with cerebral palsy. Published accounts allege Jeremy Schott was a part-time stocker and at one point even won “Target Hero of the Month”. Schott's disabilities require that he be reminded to do certain tasks and that a job coach assist at times with his duties and job-related meetings.

The lawsuit alleged that while Schott succeeded early on with the assistance of a job coach and task reminders, Target later failed to ensure the presence of a job coach during work-related and job performance meetings. By doing this Target insured Schott would fail and this violated the ADA. I am happy that the EEOC held Targets feet to the fire and hopefully after paying this amount they will change their business practices.

“People with disabilities can be productive employees when their needs are heard and met,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
June 24, 2011

Finish Line Settles ADA Lawsuit For $38,000

Finish Line, Inc. settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $38,000. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Emma Armon. According to published accounts Armon had a right shoulder injury and wanted a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability. This would seem to be a very reasonable accommodation and under the law should have been granted especially since Armon was qualified for the open position.

However, Armon was not given the position and instead no accommodation was made for her which violated the ADA which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. As a result, the company had to pay money and now has a record of discrimination. This is such a waste, I will never understand why companies just don't do the right thing and follow the law. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because the other employees can see this type of discrimination and it sets a negative tone for the workplace.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young
June 22, 2011

Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc. pays $77,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc pays $77,000 to settle a Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert. According to published accounts, Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc. engaged in unlawful disability discrimination when it fired Gray and Seifert shortly after it discovered, through a questionnaire on employees’ health conditions, medical issues and medications, that they both had both diabetes and hypertension. This kind of activity by a company is creepy and illegal.

Both men had been long time employees of the company as Gray worked for 15 years and Seifert had been there for 11 years. Both were very good workers and did not have any performance issues. I really can't believe a company would send around a questionnaire and then fire the employees based on their answers. I am glad the company had to pay money and I hope people realize what type of crazy behavior takes place out there.

“Many people, including Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert, have demonstrated their ability to perform their jobs just fine regardless of diabetes and hypertension,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
June 19, 2011

Finish Line, Inc. Pays $38,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Finish Line, Inc. will pay $38,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Finish Line refused to grant Emma Armon, who has a physical impairment related to a right shoulder injury, a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.

According to the ADA employers must make reasonably accommodations to employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. The ADA has been around for a long time and you would think that companies have it figured out. People with disabilities have a hard enough time and don't need additional problems from employers.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young.
May 30, 2011

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. Pays $55,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. ("ACS") pays $55,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The disability discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after the company refused to accommodate an employee’s known disabilities and by terminating her assignment to ACS instead. This type of activity by an employer will result in a lawsuit each time. I am glad the worker came forward and had the EEOC file a lawsuit on her behalf.

My chicago office is seeing a rise in all types of discrimination lawsuits not just ADA claims. It is very important that employees contact an employment attorney as soon as they believe they are the victim of discrimination. There are strict time limits involved and an experienced attorney can explain them to you the employee.

“Although we recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the ADA, some employers still make the serious mistake of basing job placement decisions on a person’s disabilities,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young.
May 28, 2011

ACT Teleconferencing Services Settles ADA Claim For $40,000

ACT Teleconferencing Services pays $40,000 to settle an American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") because the company refused to extend the leave of a disabled employee for one month and then fired her. Paige Sprince, a longtime employee who had been seriously injured in an automobile accident on her way to work in asked for an extention of her leave of absence for one month. I mean the woman isn't trying to milk the system she is a good employee and just needs more time to recover. Incredibly, the company terminated Sprince right after she had received clearance from her doctor to return to work in one month.

This type of activity violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. I am happy to see Sprince hang in there and not let the company push her around. After paying this settlement hopefully, the company will straighten itself out and not behave like this in the future. My chicago office is seeing more cases of employment discrimination and it is important that employees speak up and protect their rights.

“Leaves of absence are often appropriate accommodations and opportunities to fulfill the ADA’s requirements,” said EEOC attorney Markus L. Penzel
April 30, 2011

Timken Company Pays $120,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The Timken Company pays $120,000 to settle a gender discrimination and americans with disability act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of part-time employee Carmen Halloran. According to published accounts the company refused to hire Halloran full-time because managers believed that Halloran, who is the mother of a disabled child, would be unable to work full time and care for her disabled child.

The problem with that logic is Timken employed men who were the fathers of disabled children. It is remarkable that a company would treat an employee this way. Timken failed to hire Halloran into the full-time position based on an unfounded gender stereotype that the mother of a disabled child would necessarily be the primary caregiver for the child and therefore would not be a reliable employee.

“Employers must be careful not to apply stereotypes against women based on perceptions that they must always be the primary caregivers and therefore are unreliable employees.” said EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes
March 31, 2011

South Basin Packing Pays $80,000 To Settle ADA Discrimination Lawsuit

South Basin Packing will pay $80,000 to settle an Americans With Disabiliy Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts South Basin fired a worker immediately after he informed the company of his recent diagnosis for a chronic medical condition. This is a violation of the ADA because employers by law are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee disability.

In Illinois my office is seeing an increase in the number of ADA claims filed by employees. Of course I am seeing an increase in all types of employment discrimination lawsuits. It seems that employers are forgetting about how to properly treat employees and they are disregarding the law. There could also be a claim for retaliation if the employee is terminated for complaining about an ADA related issue.

EEOC atorney William R. Tamayo said, “This settlement should emphasize to employers that hiring and firing decisions must be based on facts -- whether or not an applicant or employee has the ability to do the job -- and not fears concerning disability.”
March 20, 2011

John Muir Health Pays $340,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

John Muir Health pays $340,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of eight workers. According to published reports John Muir withdrew job offers to seven nurses and one lab technician based on workplace restrictions that were put in place by independent doctors contracted by John Muir to conduct pre-employment health screenings. You can see how much money it cost the company because they put these poor policies in place.

The problem was that John Muir assumed the eight workers had life-threatening latex allergies and could not safely work in a hospital setting. The workers did not take the news laying down and instead some of the workers were independently evaluated by board-certified allergists, who concluded that they did not have an allergy or sensitivity that would preclude them from working safely in hospital settings. And all of the non-hired workers continued to work in the health care profession.

“The Americans With Disabilities Act requires all employers to ensure that job candidates are not excluded based on a disability or perceived disability". said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado
February 11, 2011

EEOC Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit With Hussey Copper For $85,000

Hussey Copper settled its American With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $85,000. According to published accounts Hussey Copper refused to hire a job applicant because of his record of a disability and because they regarded him as disabled. Apparently Donald Teaford applied for a job as a production laborer and was offered the job but later Hussey Copper rescinded the job offer based on his disability.

Like most companies the job offer required Teaford to pass a physical examination. As a result of the post-job offer examination, the company’s doctor learned that Teaford was receiving methadone as part of a clinically supervised chemical dependency treatment program--normally given to heroin addicts. The company then rescinded the job offer, mistakenly concluding that Teaford was a safety risk due to his methadone treatments. Teaford was qualified for the position, was not experiencing adverse side effects from the methadone treatments, and the treatment program provided the company’s doctor with information verifying Teaford’s successful and compliant participation in the program.

“Methadone treatment is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the United States,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. “This case should remind all employers that the ADA requires employers to make individualized assessments about an individual’s ability to do the job instead of acting out of speculative fears or biases.”
January 6, 2011

Chicago Area Jewel Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $3.2 Million

Jewel-Osco stores settled a disability discrimination lawsuit for $3.2 million resolving the case which was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ("EEOC"). The lawsuit stemmed from a store policy of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves of absence rather than bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodations. This policy affected almost 1,000 employees in the greater Chicago area who were allegedly terminated under this policy since 2003.

For various reasons not all of the 1000 former employees are eligable to collect part of the money--only 110 former employees will share in the money. The conduct of the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). As a result of the lawsuit the policy at Jewel will be revised and this type of activity should not occur in the future. The EEOC did a great job enforcing current law and making sure a large employer did not continue discriminating against its' workforce. This type of behavior by a company also creates a very hostile work environment for employees.

“This very important settlement underscores the EEOC’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act and to ensuring that all workers receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
January 2, 2011

Former Apple Employment Files Lawsuit In Illinois For Disability Discrimination

Former Apple employee Nicole Sutton filed a discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Illinois alleging Apple discriminated against her in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The allegations include negative job actions after treatment by a psychiatrist for a nervous disorder, the company keeping her in limbo without duties for several months because of the disability and Sutton being denied a promotion after Apple questioned her mental stability.

The complaint says that she was not mentally ill and she was constructively discharged by Apple’s actions. A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is under such harsh conditions that she must quit and therefore it is treated as a termination by the company if able to be proved. Sutton also claims she suffered humiliation, emotional distress and is seeking $300,000 in damages.

Sutton said "her medical condition was improperly disclosed to Apple store personnel by the company handling her disability claim."

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December 31, 2010

Haven Manor Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit For $10,000

Haven Manor settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $10,000 ending the litigation. According to legal documents Haven refused to accept temporary placement of Amanda Huff, a hearing-impaired certified nursing assistant ("CNA") because of her disability. An employer may not discriminate against a person because of a disability.

I am seeing more ADA claims in Chicago and I believe it is due to the bad economy. Every citizen has a right to an equal chance at work as long as they are qualified. Although this case settled for a small amount of money, it sends a message and depending on the circumstances, the money may be adequate to fulfill Ms. Huff's needs.

EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy said. “Such cases should remind employers that the EEOC can effectively enforce the nation’s anti-discrimination laws with the help of its partnerships with state agencies such as the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, which investigated Ms. Huff’s discrimination charge.”
December 21, 2010

United Airlines Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $600,000

United Airlines settled a Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $600,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of employees who had disabilities. According to published accounts a group of reservation agents with disabilities were subjected to a blanket policy forcing the group to reduced hourly schedules..

Because of the downtown in the economy many companies feel they can treat workers in a discriminatory way and get away with it. In this case the employees fought back and the EEOC stepped in. You can see how much money this cost the company and hopefully they will change their behavior.

One worker who had worked for United for 25 years and had worked a reduced-hour schedule for 23 years prior to the policy change, said, “Contributing 25 years of work, in a way compatible with my health, was positive for me, for United and for society."
November 30, 2010

Marlow 6 Theater Settles ADA Lawsuit With EEOC for $20,000

Innershore Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Marlow 6 Theater, pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a concession manager because of her disability, Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV"). The theater fired Robin C. Adams when the company became aware that she was HIV-positive. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual because of an actual disability or because he or she had a record of disability or was regarded as disabled.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and usually results in a company paying money to settle the lawsuit. It was be good of companies stopped being ignorant about HIV and instead educated management about the facts and allowed employees to do their job without fear and intimidation.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said “It is illegal to treat employees or applicants based upon myths, fears and stereotypes about HIV and AIDS.”
November 29, 2010

ESI Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

ESI LA Corporation pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details of the lawsuit a former truck driver, Ronald Harper, alleged IES violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") when it fired Harper because of his disability, dyslexia, even though Harper was able to perform the essential functions of his job. Specifically on the morning of August 12, 2005, Harper told his new supervisor that he is dyslexic. Approximately four hours later, the supervisor fired Harper, stating that he did not want to take the chance of Harper’s dyslexia causing him to see things “swirly” and have an accident.

After contending for five years that Harper did not have a disability and that he was not fired because of a disability, IES admitted shortly before the scheduled trial date that Harper does have a disability within the meaning of the ADA, that he was at all relevant times qualified to do his job, and that IESI did dismiss him because of his disability and in violation of federal law. It is hard to believe that IES took that long to admit what they did.

EEOC attorney Gregory Juge said, “This is a classic case of an employer firing a worker with a disability because of its own misconceptions. Employees with disabilities such as dyslexia are every bit as protected under the ADA as those with more obvious, visible impairments such as blindness or being in a wheelchair.”
October 12, 2010

Taxi Driver Applicant Settles ADA Claim For $30,000

Vegas Western Cab Company pays $30,000 to a disabled job applicant to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents published in the case. Western Cab refused to hire Joel Walden, a single-arm amputee who applied for a taxi driver position. Walden was rejected although he met all of the requirements stated in the job announcement, had experience as a driver and an unblemished driving record. This type of conduct by the company is illegal and not very kind. I am glad to see Mr. Walden stand up and fight the company and assert his rights.

People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in society and we need to work extra hard to protect them from the abuses of employers. Organizations like the EEOC along with plaintiffs attorneys like myself are working hard to fight for the justice and equality of disabled Americans. If you believe you are being discriminated against, please seek help and don't let the companies get away with this type of behavior.

“In this case, the applicant was ready, willing and able to do the work,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney. “When evaluating a disabled job applicant, the sole consideration should be whether the applicant can do the job."
September 21, 2010

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit For $47,500

Evans Solutions which is an alternative school will pay $47,500 to settle an American With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to accounts of the lawsuit Evans Solutions discharged a school social worker diagnosed with breast cancer because it regarded her as disabled, even though she had a solid work record with the company. That kind of behavior by a company is ridiculous and I am glad the EEOC made the company pay.

The employee Doris Bennett was a capable school social worker who informed her employer that she had been diagnosed with stage-zero breast cancer. In response, Bennett’s supervisor prepared an e-mail for Evans’ chief of staff which gave details about Bennett’s breast cancer and recommended that another school social worker be hired for the following academic year. Defendant let her go at the end of the year.

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney. “It provides meaningful relief to Ms. Bennett and protections for the employees of Evans Solutions. It also reminds employers that they cannot make employment decisions based on fears and stereotypes about people with cancer.”
July 21, 2010

Oracle Transportation Settles ADA Lawsuit For $30,000

Oracle Transcription Company pays $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mary Bobik. According to published documents, Oracle denied Bobik a position as a full-time medical transcription editor even though she was well qualified. 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 20 years and was regularly assigned to work more than 60 hours a week as a part-time editor.

In a case like this it is easy to prove a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") because Bobik had nearly 20 years as a medical transcriptionist and as an editor. Additionally she was physically capable and willing to perform the duties. Instead of giving her the job another person with less qualifications was given it. This is a violation of the ADA and I am glad to see Bobik get compensation from the company.

July 10, 2010

Health Delivery Pays $45,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Health Delivery Inc. will pay $45,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In the lawsuit the EEOC alleged Health Delivery, Inc. unlawfully refused to return to work an employee with a record of depression even though she had completed a course of treatment and had been approved to return to work by her doctor. This was in violation of the ADA and is a form of discrimination.

The lawsuit claims Linda Perry was a capable nurse for more than five years with Health Delivery, but the company refused to return her to work after a leave of absence because of her history of major depression. This type of treatment of a good employee not only violates the law but is just bad business. Hopefully the company will undergo some serious discrimination training and treat future employees better. This year is the 45th anniverisary of the EEOC and they continue to do a great job.

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, EEOC attorney. “It provides meaningful relief to Ms. Perry and protections for the employees of Health Delivery."
June 30, 2010

PETCO Treats Employee Like A Dog And Now Pays $145,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

PETCO Animal Supplies Stores, Inc. pays $145,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Nancy Buchner. Buchner had over 30 years as a pet groomer and was hired by PETCO, however the company failed to accommodate Buchner because she is deaf. Buchner claims management failed to schedule customers for her and other employees told potential customers that Buchner no longer worked for PETCO thereby making it impossible for her to make a living.

PETCO proceeded to unfairly penalize her during annual performance reviews for ineffective communication skills due to her inability to speak. Buchner quit the company after this type of behavior continued. When an employee is forced to quit because of discrimination it is called a constructive discharge. It is hard to imagion a company treating a good employee in this manner, perhaps that is why they paid so much money to settle this case. I hope PETCO instills a better training program for its employees and put in place better managers.

Olophius E. Perry EEOC attorney, said, “With the 20th anniversary of the ADA on the horizon, it is important to remember that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure they have equal employment opportunities. Most often, as was the case here, the cost of accommodations is minimal.”

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June 18, 2010

Starbucks Doing More Than Selling Coffee: Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $80,000

Starbucks pays $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mis­sion ("EEOC") on behalf of Chuck Hannay who has multiple sclerosis. According to the lawsuit Starbucks failed to hire Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis which is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

According to documents filed in court Hannay applied for one of six open barista positions but was never contacted for an interview. Individuals with less experience and availability were hired instead of Hannay. The only reason for the difference was the disability that Hannay had. It is hard to believe that large organizations don't have better systems in place to protect the rights of employees and potential employees.

“People with disabilities should have equal opportunities for employment,” said Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC.
June 17, 2010

Blind Women Awarded $100,000 In Illinois Discrimination Case

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Balance Staffing as a result of their hiring of Jocelyn Snower, who is blind. Once owner Robert Feinstein realized she was blind he revoked the job offer even though she had started to work for him. This was a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

In a case like this it is so obvious that the company was discriminating against the blind person. The EEOC is very vigilant about protecting the rights of disabled individuals. Revoking that job offer was very expensive for the company and the woman probably would have done a great job.

John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago, said, “Balance Staffing’s decision to fire Ms. Snower not only reflected poor business judgment, since she is an experienced recruiter, but it was expensive misjudgment -- to the tune of $100,000.”
June 15, 2010

Aveva Drug Settles ADA Lawsuit For $58,000

Aveva Drug Delivery Systems settles an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $58,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 50-year-old woman with renal disease. According to the lawsuit the woman was discriminated by Aveva because Aveva fired the woman based on her disability.

The woman was receiving dialysis treatments for her end-stage renal disease and had a catheter in her arm that was used for the dialysis treatment. She injured her arm at work and required medical treatment forcing a leave of absence. Aveva fired the employee shortly after she returned from an approved leave of absence related to her disability. This type of action by an employer is not acceptable and will result in a discrimination lawsuit.

“We are pleased that EEOC was able to obtain appropriate relief for the discrimination victim in this case,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Michael O’Brien.
May 2, 2010

Woman Gets $35,00 In Americans With Disabilities Act Lawsuit

A woman who alleged she was subjected to discrimination because she has multiple sclerosis settled her lawsuit for $35,000. Jill Roberts complained to the company, Mannatech about her problem and nothing was done to correct it so she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Mannatech Inc, claiming the company had turned her down for a job assignment because of her disability. Roberts alleged she was also denied the reasonable accommodation of as-needed restroom breaks, and as a result was denied the assignment at the company's call center in Copell. The lawsuit claimed violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").

April 11, 2010

Tyson Foods Sued For Disability Discrimination

Tyson Foods Inc., was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). A violation of the ADA occurs when there is an allegation of disability discrimination. According to the lawsuit Tyson refused to hire Mark White because he had epilipsy. According to a doctor hired by Tyson there was no job White could perform because of the epilipsy.

The problem with that theory is that White had successfully worked at Tyson in the maintenance department on two prior occasions after he was diagnosed with epilepsy but before the company had hired a doctor to perform medical screenings. It seems obvious to me that Tyson just didn't want the man working for them and used this doctors report as a pretext to not hiring him.

“It is illegal for a company to refuse to employ a disabled person while assuming the person cannot perform the job,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney at the EEOC
March 17, 2010

Americans with Disabilities Act Claims Rising

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the number of discrimination complaints filed with them related to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders almost doubled between 2005 and 2009. These claims would be filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). These claims can be tough to prove because the person filing the claim must prove their disability substantially impairs their life and that the accommodation they are requesting does not cause an undue burden on the employer. Nationwide in 2009 3,837 ADA complaints were filed. There have been positive court rulings recently that have helped people who file claims under this form of discrimination.

In Illinois aside from filing a claim with the EEOC for ADA discrimination, an employee can also file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is tasked with investigating discrimination and in this type of case ADA discrimination would most likely violate
Article 5 of the Human Rights Act ("HRA") which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of disability. There are many advantages with filing with the IDHR as opposed to the EEOC. I prefer state court and the IDHR investigates charges in a timely fashion as opposed to the EEOC.


March 7, 2010

Branch Banking & Trust Pays $24,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Branch Banking and Trust will pay $24,000 to settle a Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA")
lawsuit with Linda Hewett and filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on her behalf. The problem for Hewett started when her employer would not grant her request for a reasonable accommodation. Hewtt is a hearing-impaired employee who was denied a reasonable accommodation to work in a different position because she had a progressively severe hearing loss and could no longer work as a senior bank teller.

According to details in the lawsuit Hewett was denied reassignment to other vacant positions at Branch Banking and Trust where her hearing impairment would not affect her job performance. This was a reasonable accommodation and the company would have been better advised to have transfered her. In the current tight job market more companies believe they can treat workers as they wish and don't have to suffer any recourse. In this case Hewett asserted her rights and was victorious--good for her.

“Workers with disabilities are productive members of the American workforce,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.
March 6, 2010

Akeena Solar Pays $30,000 To Settled ADA Claim With EEOC

Akeena Solar agreed to pay $30,000 to Gladys Tellez a payroll technician to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on her behalf. According to the lawsuit Tellez was fired by Akeena Solar within hours of her first day at work. Apparently her supervisor discovered that her left arm was paralyzed and didn't want her working for him. It is remarkable in this day people still have that type of attitude toward people with handicaps.

According to documents in the lawsuit and investigation by the EEOC determined that Tellez was fully qualified and capable of performing the essential functions of the job. This is a clear case of someone who can perform a job and is not given the chance because of someone else's poor decision. Tellez gets the final word and this case should send a signal to other employers not to discriminate against people with disabilities.

“All too frequently, the mainstream public, including employers, perceive people with disabilities through a filter of upon myths and stereotypes, instead of assessing each person on their own terms,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo.
March 3, 2010

Steakhouse Worker Has Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Reinstated

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ("Seventh Circuit") has breathed some life into Paul Turner. Turner worked as a waiter for The Saloon, Ltd. ("The Saloon"), a Chicago steak-house. While working as a waiter her claims to have been the victim of several forms of employment discrimination including sexual harassment, retaliation, and violation of the Americans with Disabilites Act ("ADA"). According to the lawsuit Turner had a sexual relationship with his supervisor and claims that he ended it and she began to sexually harass him. Turner complained to restaurant management about the sexual harassment and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After getting a right to sue letter from the EEOC Turner filed a multi-count employment discrimination lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois and a Judge in that court dismissed the complaint during a summary judgment hearing. Turner appealed and the Seventh Circuit upheld the district court Judge except on the sexual harassment count. In short, the sexual harassment case will continue.

The details of the sexual harassment claims include, once a customer spilled champagne on Turner's pants, and when he went to the bar area to find towels to dry himself off, Lake, his supervisor and former lover followed him there. She put her hands inside his pockets, grabbed his penis, and said, "You sure are soaked." In another instance Lake pressed her chest against him and asked, "Don't you miss me?" Lake approached Turner from behind and grabbed his buttocks. Lastly Lake saw Turner with his clothes off while he was changing into his work uniform and told him that she missed seeing him naked.

February 8, 2010

Funeral Home Buries Itself and Must Pay $62,500 To Settle Americans With Disabilities Act Lawsuit

Attrells funeral chapel will pay $62,500 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Barbara Jackson. According to the lawsuit Attrells failed to allow amputee Jackson an almost two-year employee, to continue working as a secretary once she required the use of a wheelchair. In a remarkable statement Attrell’s claimed Jackson could not carry out her secretarial duties if she could not walk. In an even more remarkable statement Attrells said having an employee in a wheelchair might make their grieving clients feel bad. Are you kidding me? Having her hobble around on one leg would make the grieving clients feel better than seeing her get around in a wheelchair? What planet are these people on.

As is very typical in situations like this Jackson suffered financial hardship due to difficulties in finding a comparable job after she was fired. You can only imagion looking for work with one leg and having to tell a future employee you were fired because your boss didn't think you could perform your job in a wheelchair. Jackson not only suffered financially, but also through humiliation and loss of self-esteem.

“Attrell’s fired Ms. Jackson based on its own stereotypes about what a person who uses a wheelchair can and cannot do,” said A. Luis Lucero, Jr., director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office. “Ms. Jackson was not even given the opportunity to demonstrate her abilities to carry out her work functions using a chair. Such stereotyping harms people with disabilities, but it also hurts employers because they lose out on talented and qualified employees.”

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February 6, 2010

Sears Pays $6.2 Million To Settle Americans With Disabilities Act Lawsuit

Sears, Roebuck & Co. agreed to settle their Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $6.2 million. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC') filed the lawsuit on hehalf of individual workers and in the end found 235 workers eligible to share in the settlement amount. According to the lawsuit Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and fired employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. This is all a violation of the ADA.

This is a good example of what can happen to a company when they engage in discrimination. Had Sears made reasonable accomodations to workers the EEOC would not have gotten involved. Once the EEOC got involved and did some basic discovery, it releaved Sears had discriminated against many people. The average award to employees who are covered by this settlement is about $26,000. This was the largest ADA settlement in Illinois history.

“It is a satisfying day indeed when victims finally receive compensation for the wrongful discrimination they have endured,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “
January 29, 2010

Eagle Wings Industries Pays $428,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Eagle Wings Industries, Inc. pays $428,500 to a class of female employees to settle their sexual harassment and Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers. According to the lawsuit the female employees were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment. One female was also discriminated against by the company when it required her to undergo an unlawful medical examination, a clear violation of the ADA.

I see more cases like this in Illinois and this type of behavior still seems to be taking place in the workplace. It is very important for females to come forward when they encounter this type of sexual harassment and discrimination and contact an attorney. Many companies would rather sweep the issue under the rug once an employee comes forward and engage in retaliation rather than take the sexual harassment complaint seriously. As you can see from this case, it is a costly mistake for the company.

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January 8, 2010

Saks Fifth Avenue Pays $170,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Saks Fifth Avenue will pay $170,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former Saks makeup artist, Marlene Babin. Babin claimed she was fired because of ulcerative colitis which she claims was a disability. Babin underwent five major surgeries in connection with her colitis and was forced to spend three months in the hospital.

The final straw in the case came when Babin applied for an open makeup artist position at the store’s La Mer counter. Babin interviewed for the La Mer position and remarkabley on that same day, Saks sent Babin a letter stating that it did not have any positions appropriate for her background, even though Babin had more than 20-years of experience as a makeup artist. Saks eventually hired a make-up artist with no experience. Saks later admitted that Babin had been very qualified for the La Mer position. That statement proved damning to Saks position and they decided to settle.

Babin said “I was devastated when Saks fired me and then refused to hire me back. I loved my job and took a lot of pride and joy from working with people. The court’s decision in refusing to throw my case out means a great deal to me. I am grateful that I had the oppor­tunity to have my story heard. I feel that by this settlement, justice was served.”

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January 6, 2010

EEOC Settles Americans With Disabilities Lawsuit For $30,000

Riverstone Residential, a property management firm settled a discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee Shaun Oldridge for $30,000. Oldridge suffers from bipolar disorder and was hospitalized due to his condition. Even though Oldridge notified his employer about being in the hospital, the company fired him. At previous times during his employment, Oldridge asked for time off for medical reasons and was refused.

The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") which prohibits companies from discriminating against employees who have medical conditions which fall under the Act. Oldridge said “I think what they did was inappropriate and unethical." I couldn't agree more and obviously, the company realized what they did was wrong and settled this case. It was nice to see Oldridge stand up for himself and take on this company. There are many rights available to employees even in states like Illinois which are right to work states.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said, “People with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize."

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November 10, 2009

Arbonne International Settles ADA Lawsuit For $30,000

Arbonne Internaltional which operates as a skin care products company is paying $30,000 to settle an American's with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Lisa Wilson by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit Wilson who is deaf was not hired by the company because of her disability. Especially today with unemployment at over 10% many companies believe they can discriminate against a prospective employee and get away with it.

In cases like this many people are unsure of their rights and are afraid to come forward and complain. Additionally, many times there is not clear evidence and the complaining person must rely on the investigative techniques of a good attorney. Getting a good attorney involved in the case early is the best way to protect your rights. In addition to the monetary settlement, Arbonne International must comply with prohibitions against further discrimination, train employees on discriminatory conduct and post and distribute a policy of non-discrimination.

EEOC Regional Attorney Laurie Young noted, “The ADA was passed to protect applicants like Lisa Wilson who are willing and able to work but are discriminated against by employers who may have false perceptions about disabilities.”

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October 28, 2009

Hobby Lobby Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $35,000

According to court papers filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Hobby Lobby prohibited Julie Tufts, an employee in its Rochester, Minn.-based store, to use her wheelchair when performing her job and failed to accommodate her inability to climb ladders. This is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and as a result, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay Tufts $35,000 plus other relief to settle her discrimination claim. The ADA portion of her claim was that Tufts was unable to continue to work at Hobby Lobby due to the alleged discrimination and was discharged because she could not come back to work without use of the wheelchair.

Along with paying $35,000 Hobby Lobby signed an injunction against discrimination and retaliation. Retaliation takes place when an employee is singled out because of filing a claim of discrimination or asking for a reasonable accomodation. In this case asking for a reasonable accomodation because of Tufts requirement to be in a wheel chair. As part of the settlement Hobby Lobby must revise its internal policies to clarify that persons with temporary impairments may be considered as persons with disabilities. Hobby Lobby must also conduct employee training on ADA issues and update its employee handbooks.

“This case might never have arisen if Hobby Lobby had clear policies to guide its management and human resources employees in determining whether to provide reasonable accommodations to employees whose impairments are long-lasting but not necessarily permanent,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the agency’s Chicago District.
October 10, 2009

Balance Financials Sued For Discrimination of Blind Woman in Chicago

According to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against Balance Financial, the company discriminated against Joyce Snower, a blind woman in Chicago because of her disability. The company made a job offer to the woman to work at its planned Chicago office and she began performing services for them from home. After the company learned the woman was blind they rescinded her job. This could be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Melanie Damian, an attorney for Balance, said the woman was never employed by the company. Although offered a position, the woman did not fill out the paperwork to be hired and did not take a drug test, causing the offer to be withdrawn. In addition, the company no longer does business in Chicago and didn’t have the number of employees needed to be covered by the law in this instance.

“We think the case is without any basis,” Damian said. The company will be responding to the EEOC’s complaint, she said.
September 30, 2009

Sears Settles EEOC Lawsuit Over ADA for $6.2 Million

Sears, Roebuck and Co, commonly referred to as Sears settled a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") based on the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") for $6.2 million and significant remedial relief. According to the lawsuit Sears maintained an inflexible workers' compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the ADA.

Discovery showed that hundreds of employees who had taken workers' compensation leave were terminated by Sears without seriously considering reasonable accommodations to return them to work while they were on leave, or seriously considering whether a brief extension of their leave would make their return possible. All of this was in violation of the ADA.

"The era of employers being able to inflexibly and universally apply a leave limits policy without seriously considering the reasonable accommodation requirements of the ADA are over," EEOC attorney Hendrickson said.

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September 13, 2009

Jewel Stores Sued By EEOC For ADA Violations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Jewel/Osco for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to the lawsuit, Jewel-Osco refused to allow qualified employees with disabilities who are on authorized disability leave, or who are eligible for it, to return to work if they have any work restrictions.

They are also terminating employees if they reach the one-year mark on leave and that Jewel refused to allow qualified employees with disabilities assignment to temporary light duty jobs unless they were injured on the job. The case stemmed from an employee who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe allergic reactions to cosmetic fragrances

The EEOC also cites Jewel because it failed to stop the harassment of an employee disabled by a seizure disorder.

"According to the lawsuit Jewel told the man to go have a seizure and crawl on the floor.’”

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September 11, 2009

Disabled Women Gets $275,000 in Lawsuit Settlement

The state of Wisconsin will pay $275,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Wendy Sturz a parole agent who resigned in 2005. Sturz suffers from a degenerative joint disease that makes it hard for her to walk and stand without pain. Sturz worked in as a probation and parole agent since 1993 and had received positive performance reviews. In increasing pain, she requested accommodations in 2003 to reduce the stress on her weakening knees, elbows, shoulders and ankles. Sturz claimed the state violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The department rejected her requests to reduce her number of home visits, took more than a year to install an electric door so she could get through on a scooter, and rejected her request to work from home in bad weather. The department also did not make sure the sloped office parking lot was clear of snow, which meant Sturz fell on numerous occasions.

"A reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's conditions were objectively intolerable as a result of defendant's failure to accommodate her," Crabb wrote. "An employee should not have choose between her job and her health."

The state will pay Sturz, of Ellsworth, $171,000 in back pay and damages under the settlement. Her attorneys will receive $104,000.

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August 31, 2009

UPS Sued For Violating The Americans WIth Disabilities Act

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a class action lawsuit against the United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS"), the world’s largest package delivery company, alleging it violated federal law by rejecting an extension of medical leave as a reasonable accommodation for its employees with disabilities.

According to the allegations UPS violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") when Trudi Momsen, an administrative assistant at UPS, took a 12-month leave of absence from work when she began experiencing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. She returned to work for a few weeks, but soon thereafter needed additional time off after experiencing what she believed to be negative side effects of her medication. Although Momsen could have returned to work after an additional two-week leave of absence, UPS fired her for exceeding its 12-month leave policy.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with UPS. The litigation, captioned EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc. (Civil Action No. 09-C-5291) and assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Momsen and a class of disabled employees whom UPS similarly refused to accommodate, as well as an order barring future discrimination and other relief.

“This case should send a wake up call to Corporate America that violating the Americans With Disabilities Act will result in vigorous enforcement by the EEOC,” said Commission Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The ADA has been the law of the land for nearly two decades now, and employers simply have no excuse for failing to abide by its provisions.”
August 19, 2009

St. Louis Rams Get Tackled By EEOC And Pay $134,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

The St. Louis Rams settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") involving disability discrimination for $134,000 and important remedial relief on behalf of Ron DuBuque, a long-term employee with a seizure disorder. DuBuque, who had been an assistant trainer with the team for 11 years before he was terminated, had epilepsy during his entire employment. DuBuque and the EEOC alleged that he had successfully performed his job until the Rams' management, in June 2006, claimed he was a medical liability and posed a threat to his own safety and that of coworkers. DuBuque was diagnosed with trauma-induced epilepsy in 1984, more than a decade before working for the Rams.

Under the terms of the consent decree the Rams will pay a total of $134,000 to settle the case – including emotional distress damages of $100,000 and a $34,000 contract in which DuBuque will be engaged as a Rehabilitation Specialist for two years. The decree also requires the team to provide training on the ADA to managers and supervisors of the Rams. These types of discrimination cases violate the civil rights act of 1964.

“As this case and many others show, disability does not mean inability,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “All employers should make workplace decisions based on merit and qualifications to do the job, rather than on myths, fears, or stereotypes associated with a person’s disability.”


August 2, 2009

AVI Foodsystems Pays $90,000 to Settle ADA Lawsuit With EEOC

Food service giant AVI Foodsystems, Inc. ("AVI") pays $90,000 and offers jobs to discrimination victims to settle a class disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged AVI violated federal law by failing to allow employees with disabilities to return to work without a full-duty, no-restriction doctor’s release.

The EEOC asserted that this policy violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The lawsuit alleged disabled employees who had been on leave and are able to return to work with some physical restrictions, but are still able to perform their jobs, should be allowed to do so. This policy adversely affected more than 80 AVI employees in several states, including Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Laurie A. Young, regional attorney of the EEOC’s district office in Indianapolis said “Employers should be aware that the most recent amendments to the ADA became effective on January 1 of this year, and those amendments made substantial changes to the ADA as interpreted by the courts.”

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July 25, 2009

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit Against Medical Health Group For $125,000

The EEOC alleged that Medical Health Group, Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilties Act ("ADA") when it refused to return an employee, Barbara Metzger, to work after she had recovered from breast cancer surgery. Metzger was had been with the group for 25 years.
About one week before her approved medical leave ended, Metzger was called into work on May 31, 2007. She told her employer the she intended to work without interruption while undergoing her remaining chemotherapy sessions and radiation therapy for her cancer.

The practice administrator then cited examples of people she knew whose cancer treatments made them too sick to work. At the meeting, Metzger was presented with a termination letter that stated she was being fired because she was

“currently unable to return to work on a full-time basis. Due to the seriousness of her illness, and extended nature of the treatment required we must exercise our option to permanently fill your position.”

The ADA prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on assumptions and misinformation about a person’s medical condition. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. This trend among employers to discriminate against long time employees who are facing serious medical problems is troubling. When employers are facing serious problems due to a slow down in the economy or other business problem they ask employees to band together and help the company through its' troubles. However when the employee has the problem, they are cast aside like driftwood on the vast ocean withoug regard for the lifetime of service they have given the company.

“A woman who is bravely battling breast cancer has enough of a challenge without having to lose her job because of unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will stand up for the victims of this sort of bias."


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July 10, 2009

EEOC Settles ADA Discrimination Lawsuit with Swissotel of Chicago for $90,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a federal lawsuit with Swissotel for $90,000 thereby resolving a harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Swissotel violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") by permitting two supervisors at its downtown Chicago hotel to harass, then fire the employee because of his developmental disability. The employee was repeatedly called “retarded” by his supervisors.

In addition to paying $90,000, Swissotel is required under the consent decree settling the suit to give ADA training to all of its Chicago-based employees, post a notice of the settlement at its Chicago hotel, and report to the EEOC complaints of harassment or disability discrimination and any actions taken as a result of the complaints.

Disability-based harassment, just like other forms of discriminatory workplace harassment, is against federal law and is tolerated by employers at their peril,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC’s Chicago District Office.

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