Sheet Metal Mechanic to Receive $88,500
BALTIMORE - Fidelity Engineering Corporation, a leading provider of mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning services in the Mid-Atlantic area, will pay $88,500 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Jose Arteaga Rivas was a sheet metal mechanic at Fidelity's Sparks, Md., headquarters location. After he was medically released to return to work with no restrictions after heart valve replacement surgery, Fidelity wrongfully assumed that it was "too risky" for him to return to his job and failed to assign him to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation of his disability, the EEOC alleged. According to the lawsuit, EEOC said that Arteaga could have returned to work, as his medical release indicated, without posing any safety threat to himself or others, but Fidelity instead fired him.
The EEOC also charged that Fidelity later refused to rehire Arteaga for a vacant sheet metal position at its Beltsville, Md., location because of his disability and in retaliation for filing the EEOC charge.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, Civil Action (No. 1-13-cv-00098-RDB) after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"We appreciate Fidelity Engineering Corporation's efforts to resolve this lawsuit quickly, fairly and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "This settlement, including the training provisions, is intended to protect all employees and applicants with disabilities from discrimination."
In addition to the monetary relief to Arteaga, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Fidelity Engineering Corporation from engaging in adverse employment actions or retaliation in violation of the ADA and requires the corporation to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified people with disabilities. The company will:
Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, added,"In cases like this one, employers need to ensure that they have qualified personnel and concrete policies in place to address whether the individual with a disability is truly a threat to himself or others."
The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.