Poultry Company Fired Manager While on Approved Leave, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA - Harrison Poultry, Inc., a poultry hatchery located in Bethlehem, Ga., will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
EEOC filed suit in 2014 charging that Harrison Poultry violated federal law when it failed to provide a manager with a reasonable accommodation for his disability and then fired him. According to the complaint, in July 2012, the manager requested a seven-day extension to his previously approved vacation leave to comply with his doctor's orders restricting him from working during that time. EEOC charged that instead of granting the manager's request for additional medical leave, the company immediately fired him, before he even exhausted his vacation time.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Gainesville Division (Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-0227-WCO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary damages to the employee, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires the company to adopt a policy that sets forth a procedure for employees to request leave as an accommodation under the ADA. The decree also requires that the company provide annual equal employment opportunity training to its managers, supervisors, owners and human resources employees. The decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to EEOC about requests for medical leave.
"We are pleased with this settlement," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "EEOC hopes that this case serves as a reminder to employers that disabled employees' requests for leave for medical treatment must be accommodated unless granting leave would pose an undue hardship on the company."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.