Cement Driver Discharged, Despite His Ability to Perform the Duties of His Job
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc., violated federal law by subjecting a cement driver with a neck impairment to disability discrimination when it failed to provide him with a reasonable accommodation, and terminated him from his employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 29, 2011.
In its suit, the EEOC said that Roadrunner Redi-Mix terminated Mr. Eluid Tafoya because of his alleged inability to perform the job functions of cement driver, although Mr. Tafoya safely performed his job duties for two and a half years of employment. It was not until Tafoya placed Roadrunner on notice of his disability, because of his need for a reasonable accommodation, that Roadrunner immediately sent him home on unpaid leave, and then discharged him from his employment.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability and obligates employers to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace to individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Roadrunner Redi-Mix, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11-00873 RHS/WPL) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the employer to provide Tafoya with appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further disability discrimination. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.
“Employers must make employment decisions based on the employee’s ability to perform the duties of their job, not based upon unlawful biases about their abilities. Employers who act based on myths, fears, and stereotypes instead of actual facts risk violating federal law,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.
EEOC Deputy District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “The ADA prohibits managers from ignoring reasonable accommodation requests made by qualified persons with disabilities. Employers must understand their obligation to engage in the interactive process, to talk to their employees and to explore reasonable accommodations.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.