Printing Company Fired Capable Worker Because of Cancer, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - - Journal Disposition, the former operator of IPC Print Services, Inc., a full-service print, manufacturing and distribution company in St. Joseph, Mich., and employing at least 200 people, has agreed to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $55,000.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, Case No. 1:10-CV-00886, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, charged that Journal Disposition terminated a long-time employee who had been diagnosed with cancer because he exhausted his time under its short-term disability insurance policy. The policy provided 26 weeks of leave within a rolling 12-month period. Prior to the exhaustion of his leave, the employee returned back and began working part-time hours while he received chemotherapy. He was able to perform all of the essential functions of his job. When the employee’s benefit was exhausted under the policy, the company summarily terminated him and made him eligible for rehire once he was able to work full-time, the EEOC said.
At the time of the discharge, the EEOC said, the employee made an accommodation request to continue working part-time until his chemotherapy ended about five months later. The company acknowledged the request, but applied the policy nonetheless without considering any other factors such as his ability to perform the job, the reasonableness of his request, or if the request provided an undue hardship to the company.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the terms of consent decree, signed by U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, Journal Disposition will pay the employee $55,000. Since the employer no longer operated the facility, no other equitable relief was required.
“When a qualified individual with a disability makes a reasonable accommodation request, the employer has a duty under the ADA to consider and evaluate it,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Trek Carethers. “It was clear the company had not, and the fact that the company eventually rehired the employee did not excuse the original violation.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.