U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Oklahoma Chain Unlawfully Denied Reasonable Accommodations to Workers with Disabilities and Fired Them, Federal Agency Charges
ST. LOUIS - Brown-Thompson General Partnership, dba 7-Eleven, a chain of Oklahoma convenience stores, violated federal law when it failed to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities at the company's Oklahoma City warehouse and distribution center, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on Friday, September 30, 2016.
According to EEOC's suit, Casey Crothers worked as a stocker at the distribution center. When his doctor placed him on short-term work restrictions due to a disability, Crothers asked for temporary transfer to a position that met his restrictions. 7-Eleven told Crothers that because his restrictions were not related to an on-the-job injury, the company was not required to accommodate him. 7-Eleven then fired Crothers because he was going to miss more than three days of work. EEOC alleges 7-Eleven similarly failed to provide reasonable accommodations to other workers, denying temporary light or modified duty and terminating employees with disabilities who missed more than three days of work if they were not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (EEOC v. Brown-Thompson General Partnership d/b/a 7-Eleven Stores, Case No. 5:16-cv-01142-R) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address any future disability discrimination.
"While the Family and Medical Leave Act requires certain employers to provide leave to some employees, it is not the only law that requires leave," said James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC's St. Louis District Office. "Where leave is a reasonable accommodation for a medical condition covered by the ADA, an employer must provide it."
Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for EEOC's St. Louis District, said, "One of the primary goals of the ADA is to keep people with disabilities working. When accommodations are reasonable - such as allowing an employee to temporarily work in an available job that meets the employee's restrictions or allowing the worker additional time off - and do not pose an undue hardship on the employer, the law requires that the employer provide the accommodation."
According to its website, 7-Eleven operates over 110 locations across Central Oklahoma and is one of the state's leading gasoline and convenience products retailers.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.