U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Petro-Chemical Contractor Fired Three Brothers Because of Their Blood Disorder, Federal Agency Charges
HOUSTON - Signature Industrial Services, LLC (SIS) unlawfully fired three laborers - all of whom were brothers - because of a blood disorder that runs through their family, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Drew West and Anthony West had been working at the Exxon / Mobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas when SIS took over a contract to perform mechanical services at the plant. Drew West and Anthony West were hired on SIS's payroll around December 2011. Both have hemophilia A, a blood disorder that does not impede their performing their jobs, but which requires expensive medicine for treatment should they sustain an on-the-job scrape or injury that causes bleeding.
According to the project manager who was responsible for the SIS workers at the plant, SIS's president and vice president of operations instructed him to fire the Drew and Anthony West once they learned how the SIS's insurance costs could spike by having the West brothers on the payroll. Because the West brothers had an excellent work history, as evidenced in part by Anthony West earning a promotion and substantial raise during his employment with SIS, the project manager refused to fire them.
A third West brother, Raymond, who also has hemophilia A, began working for SIS at the Beaumont Exxon/Mobil refinery around January 2013. After the plant manager who refused to fire the West brothers stopped working at the plant in April 2013, SIS upper management advised the West brothers' immediate supervisor that if he didn't fire the brothers, SIS would fire him. On July 3, 2013, all three West brothers were advised by their direct supervisor that they were being fired, effective immediately, supposedly due to a reduction in force, although no workers other than the West brothers were laid off on that day.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00070) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The federal agency is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Signature Industrial Services from engaging in any future disability discrimination. The EEOC is also seeking back pay on behalf of the West brothers, and compensatory and punitive damages and other relief on their behalf, including rightful- place instatement to a suitable position at SIS.
"When workers have a disability that does not impede them from doing their jobs capably, an employer cannot discriminate against them based on fears that treating them fairly may hurt the company's bottom line," said EEOC Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin.
EEOC Houston District Office Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita added, "Enforcement of the ADA is a top priority of this agency. Workers should never be mistreated simply because they have a medical history or condition."
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.