Company Fired Employee After Seizure, Federal Agency Charged
DENVER - Gollnick Construction, Inc., which does business as Colorado Excavating, will pay $42,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's suit alleged Colorado Excavating fired office assistant Dora Marquez just four days after she suffered a seizure at work. Before firing Marquez, Colorado Excavating failed to engage in the required interactive process to discuss potential accommodations. The EEOC also charged the company engaged in recordkeeping and confidentiality violations by not keeping medical information in separate medical files and by shredding employment applications.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado (EEOC v. Gollnick Constr. d/b/a Colo. Excavating, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-02581-DDD-SKC) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires annual training for all employees, management officials, and human resources personnel with an emphasis on disability discrimination and the interactive process. The first annual training will include a component of Epilepsy 101 training provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado. The decree also requires periodic reports to the EEOC of all internal disability discrimination complaints. The monetary award includes back pay and compensatory damages.
"Far too often, people with seizure disorders are denied employment opportunities because of myths and fears about their condition," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "As this case shows, employment decisions should not be driven by stereotypes and fears about people with epilepsy."
Amy Burkholder, EEOC Denver Field Office Director said, "We are pleased that Colorado Excavating was able to reach an agreement with the EEOC that will enable us to further Congress's intention that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to achieve success. Businesses, large and small, have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide a workplace free from disability discrimination."
Studies show that the unemployment rate for individuals with epilepsy is two to three times that of the general population. Those individuals with epilepsy who are gainfully employed are likely to be underemployed or earn less than people who do not have epilepsy.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.