Federal Agency Charges Company Fired Worker Regarded As Disabled
MIAMI - American Tool & Mold, a Clearwater, Fla., company that designs and manufactures injection molds for plastics, violated federal law when it fired a man because it regarded him as disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the company terminated Michael Matanic because he did not provide a medical release relating to a six-year-old successful back surgery. At the time of his termination, Matanic was in good health and had a recent medical examination showing no physical limitations on his ability to perform his job as a process engineer. The EEOC further charged that Matanic actually performed his job with American Tool and Mold for two months without incident or injury while he attempted to obtain the outdated medical documentation that it had required as part of its allegedly discriminatory post-offer medical screening process.
Requiring some employees to provide medical documentation for old medical conditions violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are disabled, have a record of disability or who are regarded as disabled. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The lawsuit, EEOC v. American Tool & Mold, (Case No. 8:12-cv-2772), seeks back pay for Matanic, compensatory and punitive damages, changes to the company's medical examination criteria, and other injunctive relief.
"Employers must refrain from making workplace decisions based on fears or stereotypes about people with real or perceived disabilities," said Robert Weisberg, Regional Attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "Not only do these actions violate federal law, but they also deny qualified workers the opportunity to be productive members of this nation's work force."
The EEOC's Miami District Director, Malcolm Medley, said, "When an employer makes an employment decision based on unfounded speculation about future financial risks associated with a disability or perceived disability, it violates federal law. The EEOC will act vigorously to protect the rights of workers who are disabled or whom employers perceive as disabled."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.