Today’s post is a reading of an EEOC notice dated 12/19/2019 where an employer was sued for denying an employees request for medical leave after learning of her medical condition and subsequently firing her and failing to rehire, allegedly as retaliation for the accommodation request.
Pest Control and Landscaping Company Terminated and Refused to Rehire Employee With Disability After Denying Her Request for Leave as Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Pest control and landscaping company Massey Services, Inc. will pay $63,000 and provide other significant relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that the company violated federal law when it denied an employee’s request for medical leave, fired her after learning of her medical condition, and subsequently failed to rehire her for the position that she previously held that remained vacant.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Massey denied former employee Annie Mitchell’s request for leave after she became hospitalized due to her disability and instead discharged her from her position. The EEOC’s suit further alleges that Massey actively recruited other candidates for Mitchell’s office manager position and refused to rehire Mitchell – even though she sought to return to her prior job – in retaliation for her accommodation request, said the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Massey Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00263) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to paying $63,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Massey from violating the ADA in the future and requires it to report to the EEOC on its compliance with the decree, including how it handles any future discrimination or retaliation complaints. Massey will modify its policies and make exceptions to any leave provisions by providing unpaid medical leave as a form of reasonable accommodation. The company will provide training on the ADA, with an emphasis on its obligations to provide reasonable accommodations and not to retaliate against employees who request those accommodations.
“This is a meaningful settlement,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “In addition to providing just compensation to Ms. Mitchell, the decree will serve as a reminder to employers that they have an obligation to make policy or practice exceptions and provide leave as a form of reasonable accommodation unless doing so would result in an undue hardship.”
EEOC Atlanta District Director Darrell E. Graham added, “The ADA requires employers to assess each employee’s request for an accommodation on an individualized basis, rather than having blanket policies that apply across the board.“
Orlando, Fla.-based Massey Services, Inc. operates service centers throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.
- 15 or more employees under Title VII and ADA
- 20 or more employees under ADEA
- Virtually all employers under EPA
- Non-Federal employees, 180 days to file a charge (may be extended by state laws)
- Federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEO Counselor
Disability Discrimination Notes
Employer Coverage – 15 or more employees
- Non-Federal employee 180 days to file a charge (may be extended by state laws)
- Federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEO counselor.
No person shall discriminate against any individual because such individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this chapter or because such individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter.
(b) Interference, coercion, or intimidation
It shall be unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by this chapter.
(c) Remedies and procedures
The remedies and procedures available under sections 12117, 12133, and 12188 of this title shall be available to aggrieved persons for violations of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, with respect to subchapter I, subchapter II and subchapter III of this chapter, respectively.
TITLE 42 – THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE, CHAPTER 126 – EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
SUBCHAPTER I – EMPLOYMENT Sec. 12111. Definitions
The term “reasonable accommodation” may include
(A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and
(B) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.