Employee Not Hired Because of Illegal Inquiry About Medical Information, Federal Agency Charged
RALEIGH, N.C. - Two Hawk Employment Services, LLC, a Lumberton, N.C., temporary employment agency, will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. EEOC had charged that Two Hawk violated federal law when it made illegal medical inquiries of job applicants and failed to retain employment applications as required by federal law. The suit also alleged Two Hawk failed to hire an applicant because she disclosed her disability during the application process.
According to EEOC's complaint in the lawsuit, Nicole Bullard applied for employment with Two Hawk in May 2013. Bullard was required to fill out a medical history form during the application process. The complaint states that the form asked Bullard to identify medical conditions she has or had in the past, as well as to disclose whether she was taking any medications that might affect her ability to perform the essential functions of the job she sought. The form further asked Bullard to state whether she had physical or mental conditions that require accommodation, and whether she had any restrictions in activity. EEOC's complaint indicates that in response to the application's questions, Bullard disclosed that she was taking two prescription medications.
Thereafter, EEOC said, Bullard received a conditional job offer from Two Hawk. During her orientation for work, Bullard was questioned about her medications, and provided information in response to those questions. The following day, Bullard's job offer was rescinded and Bullard was told she had not passed a "pre-screening test." The questions asked during the application process, as well as the alleged refusal to hire Bullard due to the medical information she had disclosed, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to EEOC.
EEOC's lawsuit also alleged that Two Hawk failed to retain applications and other documents related to hiring for one year as required by the agency's record-keeping regulations, in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 1602.14. Such alleged conduct also violates the ADA, which requires employers to make and preserve records relevant to the determination of whether unlawful employment practices have been or are being committed.
EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Two Hawk Employment Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 7-16-CV-00026-FL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the payment of $30,000 in damages to Bullard, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Two Hawk develop an anti-discrimination policy that includes the ADA and its prohibition against disability discrimination. In addition, Two Hawk will provide annual training to its corporate and branch office staff on the requirements of the ADA and its prohibition against illegal medical inquiries. Two Hawk will also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws.
"The law is clear: employers cannot request any information that might disclose the existence of a disability during its initial application process," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District. "Such information can only be requested after an applicant receives a legitimate job offer."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.