Telecommunications Company Fired Employee While Out on Leave for Cancer Surgery, Federal Agency Charged
LOS ANGELES - Time Warner Cable, Inc. and Charter Communications, Inc. agreed to pay $99,500 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has approved the consent decree filed by the EEOC.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, an employee requiring a leave of absence for surgery to remove a cancerous nodule from her thyroid was fired while she was recovering from surgery, 10 days after the surgery and three weeks before she was set to return to work. The EEOC charged that Time Warner failed to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation of leave for her disability and instead unlawfully terminated her despite knowing she had undergone potentially life-saving surgery to remove the cancerous nodule and was recovering.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to a disability.
The EEOC filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., et al., Case No.: 5:17-cv-01355-JGB-KK), after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree, which remains under the court's jurisdiction during the term of the decree, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent further workplace discrimination. Charter Communications will review and revise its written policies to achieve compliance with the ADA, provide regular training to all employees regarding the ADA, maintain a log detailing accommodation requests and complaints and conduct regular audits, and oversee recordkeeping and reporting requirements through a designated equal employment opportunity monitor. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the terms of this agreement.
"Employers should recognize that leaves of absence may qualify as reasonable accommodations under the ADA," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office. "When assessing accommodation requests, employers need to ensure they are engaging in an effective interactive process."
Rosa Viramontes, district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office said, "Employers should be cognizant of their responsibilities under federal law regarding reasonable accommodations and put in place measures to prevent disability discrimination in the workplace."
Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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.