Wyoming Manufacturing Company Supervisor Mocked Veteran With PTSD, Forcing Him to Quit, Federal Agency Charged
PHOENIX - Mine Rite Technologies, LLC, a Buffalo, Wyo.-based manufacturing company, will pay $75,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, employee Jason Kaufman, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was harassed by his supervisor because of his condition. The EEOC said the supervisor referred to Kaufman as a "psycho" to his coworkers. The supervisor also made comments about "Psycho Thursday," because that was the day of the week when the employee attended therapy sessions to treat his PTSD. The EEOC further charged that when the harassment became intolerable, Kaufman was forced to quit to avoid further abuse.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination and harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, Case No. 2:17-cv-00063-SWS, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree announced today resolves the EEOC's lawsuit and the underlying discrimination charge filed with the EEOC. In addition to monetary relief, the three-year decree includes an injunction against future discrimination based on disability and a requirement that Mine Rite create and implement equal employment opportunity policies. The decree also requires Mine Rite to train its employees and to provide Kaufman with a letter of apology and a letter of recommendation.
"A veteran should never be ridiculed because of PTSD," said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "This man gave his all for this country, came back suffering, and was brave enough to get help from the Veterans Administration for his condition. Our veterans deserve better than this. Furthermore, mental health is a significant problem in this country, and such mistreatment only makes things worse."
Elizabeth Cadle, the EEOC's Phoenix District director, added, "Employers must ensure that all kinds of workplaces are free from discrimination and harassment. The resolution of this lawsuit should serve as a reminder to employers that unlawful harassment because of a mental health condition will not be tolerated. We are pleased that the company's owner worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case. We are also gratified that Mine Rite will be creating and implementing policies that will help its employees understand their rights under the ADA."
The EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).
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.