EEOC Charged Staffmark Fired Employee Because of Her Prosthetic Leg
CHICAGO - Staffmark Investment LLC, one of the nation's largest commercial staffing companies, will pay $100,000 under a consent decree entered June 25, 2013 which ended a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that Staffmark violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it terminated a woman with a prosthetic leg because of her disability.
Staffmark assigned Dorothy Shanks to work at an Ozburn-Hessey Logistics (OHL) facility located in Romeoville, Ill., to inspect Sony televisions on a temporary basis. On Shanks's second day on the job, according to the EEOC's complaint, a Staffmark employee told her that she was being removed from the work site because they did not want anyone to bump into her or knock her down. The EEOC alleged that the employee told Shanks that Staffmark would find her another placement, but she was never sent on another assignment following her termination from the OHL facility.
The EEOC has also sued Sony, based on allegations that its manager requested Shanks's removal from the assignment. EEOC's case against Sony is still pending.
The consent decree, entered by U.S. District Court Judge James B. Zagel of the Northern District of Illinois, settles the suit against Staffmark and provides $100,000 in monetary relief to the victim. The decree also requires Staffmark to report all employee complaints of disability discrimination at two Chicago-area facilities to the EEOC for the next two years. Staffmark must also train all its supervisory and managerial employees at those facilities on the prevention and eradication of disability discrimination and adopt new policies regarding anti-disability discrimination. The decree also specifically provides that Staffmark cannot require Shanks to keep the facts underlying the case confidential, waive her rights to file charges with a government agency, or refrain from reapplying for work with Staffmark or any of its clients.
"The ADA makes it illegal to fire a disabled employee due to baseless fears that the individual may injure herself or others," said John Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago. "The early resolution of the case means that Staffmark can quickly get to work implementing the terms of the consent decree, which should make the company a better place for disabled workers to work, free from the threats of illegal discrimination."
John Rowe, the EEOC district director in Chicago, added, "The law is clear that no staffing agency of any kind may safely comply with any client's discriminatory request. If the EEOC is in the picture, such compliance may prove far from a good business decision, but rather a short-sighted and costly one."
The EEOC filed the case, EEOC v. Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc., No. 12-cv-9628, on Dec. 4, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, only after first attempting to reach a negotiated settlement through the agency's conciliation process. EEOC Trial Attorneys Ann Henry and Brad Fiorito and Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason litigated the case against Staffmark and continue to litigate the case against Sony on behalf of the government.
According to the company website, Staffmark is one of the top ten commercial staffing companies in the United States, with more than 300 offices in 30 states.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.