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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
12-16-09

Economy Finance Settles EEOC Disability Bias Suit

Loan Company to Pay $65,000 to Former Clerk Discharged After Objecting to Illegal Medical Exam

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Economy Finance, a personal loan company that formerly did business in Aransas Pass, Texas, will pay a former loan clerk $65,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s  lawsuit, Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-00184, filed in U.S. District Court for the  Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, charged that Economy  Finance refused to allow an employee to return to work unless she submitted to  a medical exam that would detect viruses. The company insisted that she take the exam after it became aware that her husband had a medical condition related to Hepatitis C. This medical exam was not job-related, according to the EEOC, because any possible safety risk to others posed by the  loan clerk’s job duties would be insignificant.  The EEOC further alleged that when the employee refused to undergo the  medical exam, Economy Finance discharged her because it regarded her as  disabled due to her relationship with her husband.

It is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to discharge an employee who is perceived to be disabled for no reason other than the person’s association with someone who is either  disabled or believed to be disabled. Moreover, conditioning the continuation of employment on the submission to a medical examination unrelated to the ability to perform essential job functions also  violates the ADA. After the EEOC’s San Antonio Field office  determined that Economy Finance had violated the ADA, the agency attempted to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Federal law prohibits requiring employees to undergo non-job-related medical exams based on irrational fears or negative stereotypes about people who have a relationship or association with  someone who has a disability,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo  Juarez. “Required medical exams must be job-related pursuant to objective medical evidence, and employees should be judged on their actual qualifications and abilities rather than on speculation and misguided perceptions about their health.”

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, signed yesterday by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham  Jack, if Economy Finance resumes business within four years, it must implement a policy which provides equal employment opportunities for qualified people covered  by the ADA, and for qualified individuals who  have an association with someone covered by the ADA. Additionally, Economy Finance will: be enjoined from making medical  inquiries of or requiring its employees to undergo medical examination which  are prohibited by the ADA; provide four hours of  training on the ADA for all managers and  supervisors working at any of Economy Finance’s facilities, and; post a Notice  of Intent to comply with all the provisions of the ADA.

Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office said, “This case involved an employment decision that had nothing to do with the employee’s ability to do her job competently, effectively and safely. We are pleased with the results of this settlement and hope that if Economy Finance resumes business, it will judge its employees on their actual qualifications and ability rather than on grossly inaccurate assumptions and  unfounded fears about individuals with disabilities and those who are related to them.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information  about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.