Nail Polish Manufacturers Refused Simple Accommodations to Factory Workers, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK - KTF Enterprises, Inc. and Kirker Enterprises, Inc., related nail polish manufacturers, have agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. Three former employees with disabilities will receive $175,000 in monetary relief resulting from the settlement.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged KTF and Kirker with violating federal law when they refused to accommodate three factory workers with disabilities employed at the factory that KTF Enterprises operated at the time in Newburgh, N.Y., even though the requested accommodations would not have created an undue burden on the company. Two of the disabled factory workers merely needed stools to sit on periodically as they performed their work, but the companies refused to accommodate their requests, the EEOC said. The lawsuit alleged that the officials behind the discriminatory acts were employees of Kirker Enterprises, which is located in Paterson, N.J.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits an employer from refusing to provide an accommodation to an employee with a disability if there is an accommodation that can be provided without creating an undue burden on the employee. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 7:19-CV-06611) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Nelson S. Román, requires the companies to pay $175,000 in monetary relief to three victims of disability discrimination. The decree also provides non-monetary relief designed to prevent further disability discrimination. The companies must train all employees, including management and human resources staff, regarding the ADA's requirements. They must also report to the EEOC any accommodation requests or complaints about disability discrimination they receive from employees in the next three years.
The lawsuit was settled prior to the parties engaging in significant pre-trial discovery.
"The early resolution of this lawsuit is beneficial to both the defendants and the victims of the discrimination," said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. "The parties' resources are not expended unnecessarily and the employees receive compensation much sooner than they would in protracted litigation."
EEOC New York Acting District Director Judy Keenan added, "When an individual with a disability requests an accommodation of his or her employer, the company must engage in a meaningful interactive process with the employee. The company's goal should be to identify an accommodation that will not create an undue burden for the business, but will enable an employee to perform the duties of the position."
EEOC trial attorney Kirsten Peters pointed out, "The defendants could have avoided this lawsuit by simply providing a stool to an employee whose leg is partly amputated and who had worked on its factory line for nearly 30 years. In fact, this employee had used a stool intermittently throughout his work days to effectively perform his duties for nearly all of those 30 years."
KTF Enterprises, Inc. and Kirker Enterprises, Inc. are both custom manufacturers of nail lacquer and other nail care treatment products. At the time the alleged discrimination took place, Kirker Enterprises operated and managed KTF Enterprises, the EEOC said.
The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
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.