Pipe Fittings Manufacturer Fired Disabled Veteran Instead of Providing a Reasonable Accommodation, Federal Agency Said
PITTSBURGH - EZEFLOW USA, a pipe fitting manufacturer located in New Castle, Pa., will pay $65,000 and provide significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC charged that Iraq and Afghanistan U.S. Marine Corps veteran Adam Brant, who worked as a maintenance technician, requested six weeks of unpaid medical leave when he experienced seizures caused by service-related disabilities. EZEFLOW USA denied the request because Brant was still a probationary employee. Even though EZEFLOW USA maintains a policy of providing up to 26 weeks of paid leave to non-probationary employees, the company refused to provide Brant with unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation and fired him because of his disability, according to the lawsuit.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. EZEFLOW USA, Inc., Civil Action No 02:14-cv-527) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $65,000 in monetary relief to Brant, the 28-month consent decree resolving the lawsuit prohibits EZEFLOW USA from engaging in disability discrimination or retaliation. The company will revise its policies to ensure that probationary employees with disabilities are given unpaid leave when needed as a reasonable accommodation. EZEFLOW USA will also provide training on the ADA, report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the consent decree and post a notice about the settlement.
"This case is significant because it demonstrates that even probationary employees may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation unless it can show that doing so would cause a significant difficulty or expense."
Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office added, "We owe all of our veterans our gratitude for their sacrifices, but especially those with service-related disabilities. Mr. Brant honorably served our country as a Marine and only needed a brief period of unpaid leave to treat his disability and remain employed. I am pleased that EZEFLOW USA worked with us to resolve this lawsuit quickly and that the company will also provide affirmative relief to protect all employees from disability discrimination."
The EEOC has issued two revised publications addressing veterans with disabilities and the ADA. The Guide for Employers explains how protections for veterans with service-connected disabilities differ under the ADA and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). It explains how employers can prevent disability-based discrimination and provide reasonable accommodations.
The Guide for Wounded Veterans answers questions that veterans with service-related disabilities may have about the protections available when they seek to return to their former jobs or look for civilian jobs. The publication also explains the kinds of accommodations that may be necessary to help veterans with disabilities obtain and successfully maintain employment.
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.