U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Farmingdale Store Refused Leave of Absence for Employee With Knee Injury, Then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK -- The Scooter Store, a nationwide, Texas-based retailer, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate an employee's request for a temporary leave of absence due to a knee injury and then fired him from its store in Farmingdale, N.Y., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed this week.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. 1:11-04226-AAR-VVP, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that The Scooter Store failed to accommodate an employee's request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability, psoriatic arthritis, after he sustained a knee injury that required a temporary absence from work. The EEOC’s suit states that the employee timely informed the company he was incapacitated until further notice and that he required a leave of absence to seek treatment for his disability. However, The Scooter Store refused his request and instead fired him, purportedly for job abandonment, although he had presented medical documentation.
Disability discrimination, including the failure to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability, violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary relief for the employee, the adoption of strong policies and procedures to remedy and prevent disability discrimination, training on discrimination for its managers and employees, and other relief.
“Granting a temporary leave of absence to this employee would have posed no undue hardship on this company and would have allowed the employee to recuperate and return to work,” said Adela Santos, trial attorney in the EEOC’s New York District Office.
Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District, added, “Employers are obligated to engage in an interactive process with employees and provide reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. Refusing to even consider an employee's request for a reasonable accommodation is tantamount to a clear violation of the ADA.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.