Can we fire a disabled employee after 7 months of leave?
Can I force an employee to use a hand scanner even if he believes it would brand him with the biblical Mark of the Beast?
Is it disability discrimination if a supervisor mocks an employee with Celiac Disease?
In a Disability Claim, is a Court Bound by a Job Description’s Identification of an Essential Function?
Can your Florida business be sued over perfume, cologne, cigarette smoke smells in the workplace?
Can an employer fire a worker who has a seizure?
An employee was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and hypertension and has seizures which affect his neurological function. During the workday the employee had an “episode of seizure” and his supervisor drove him to the emergency room due to his medical condition. Once there, the employee had at least two seizures. As a result of the seizures, the employee was restricted from driving and operating heavy machinery for six months.
The employer provided the employee with approximately 3 months of medical leave. The employee tried to return to work by faxing the employer his updated medical restrictions. The employer chose instead to terminate the employee after he exhausted the 3 months of medical leave provided by the employer.
The EEOC lawsuit claimed that the employer violated the ADA by denying the employee a reasonable accommodation in the form of altered work duties or additional medical leave. Instead of providing the employee a reasonable, accommodation, the employer terminated him.
At the end of September 2017 the EEOC announced that they settled the lawsuit by having the employer agree to pay $45,250.
The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC issued a issued a Letter of Determination finding reasonable cause to believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was violated. The EEOC then attempted to conciliate (settle) the matter with the employer, but the EEOC was unable to secure from the employer a conciliation agreement acceptable to the EEOC, so the EEOC sued the employer on the employee’s behalf. (EEOC v. PPG Industries, Inc., Case No. 2:17-cv-12304).
In addition to monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires the employer to provide training to its employees on its obligations under the ADA. The decree also requires the company to post a notice on its bulletin boards which reaffirms its obligations under the ADA.
This case reminds employers that rather than adopting blanket policies, an employer should conduct an individualized inquiry and evaluate whether it can provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation.
An EEOC spokesperson stated that the employer in this case “could have considered a temporary change in duties or a six-month medical leave to coincide with this man's medical restrictions. When employers flatly refuse to even explore such measures, the EEOC will step in to make things right.”
If your Florida business needs any assistance in addressing an EEOC charge of discrimination or in handling a disability-related leave of absence, please email or call the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. at 1-772-465-5111.
You can read more of our employment law articles on our legal updates page.
If you know a Florida business owner or Florida human resources professional who would benefit from this article, please share it with one click to social media or email.