Former Administrative Assistant Fired After Experiencing Stroke-Like Symptoms, Federal Agency Says
SAN ANTONIO - Dependable Health Services, Inc. (DHS), a San Antonio company which provides contract workers to U.S. military facilities, violated federal law when it fired an employee after she had an attack of Bell's palsy, a neurological disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC lawsuit against Dependable Health Services, Inc. (DHS), when the claimant returned to work after being hospitalized, her supervisor fired her because management officials because the company believed she had suffered a stroke and were concerned that she might experience another one on the job.
Firing an individual because of her disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC's San Antonio Field office filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:12-cv-00846-XR) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.
"Firing an individual because of a disability or a misperception about a disability's effects violates the ADA," said EEOC Trial Attorney David Rivela. "It is unfortunate-and illegal--to fire someone simply because of an inaccurate perception about a medical impairment or disability."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor said, "Based on the doctor's notes which stated that the claimant could return to work, DHS should have returned this employee to work. Instead, the company allowed speculation and fears over her perceived disability to prevent this employee from returning to her job. This is exactly the type of discrimination the ADA was meant to address and stop."
In fiscal year 2011, private-sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented level of 99,947, which included a record-high number of disability charges (25,742).
According to company information, DHS is an SBA 8(a) Certified, Small Disadvantaged Business headquartered in San Antonio, with offices in Washington D.C., which provides contract workers to U.S. military facilities.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.