Tool Manufacturer Fired Employee Who Needed Leave for Medical Treatment, Federal Agency Says
BALTIMORE - Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a global diversified industrial company, violated federal law when it terminated an employee with cancer who took leave for medical treatment related to her cancer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the suit, an inside sales representative, who started working at Stanley Black & Decker's Towson facility in March 2016, told her supervisor she had been treated for cancer and would have follow up doctor appointments throughout the year. In October 2016, when she needed further testing that included a biopsy, the employee spoke to the human resources representative about her options. The human resources representative told the inside sale representative that there were no available options since she had not been employed long enough to be eligible for medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The EEOC charges that Stanley Black & Decker fired the sale representative for poor attendance in December 2016, even though she exceeded her sales goals and quotas. Her absences were related to her prior cancer treatments or need for additional medical testing, and she had requested a reasonable accommodation. Stanley Black & Decker's inside sales attendance policy does not provide exceptions for people who need leave as an accommodation to their disability, according to the suit. Moreover, the company did not follow its progressive discipline policy and fired the inside sales representative instead of giving her a final written warning as set forth in its attendance policy.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, unless it is an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02525) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "Employers can run afoul of the ADA if they have a rigid attendance policy that penalizes employees taking leave as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities."
"This case should remind all employers that they have an obligation to make exceptions to 'no fault' attendance policies as a form of a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would be an undue hardship," added EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson.
Addressing emerging and developing areas of law, including inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC's Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.