Agricultural Company Fired Driver Due to His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - Vita Plus Corporation, an agricultural company with a facility in Gagetown, Mich., violated federal law by discriminating against a truck driver because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on July 16.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Vita Plus discriminated against Brian Kaczorowski because of his disability - non-insulin-dependent diabetes. On Sept. 19, 2013, Vita Plus hired Kaczorowski for a driver's position, contingent on his passing a pre-employment physical. Beginning on Sept. 24, Kaczorowski worked three full days for Vita Plus - in training while riding along with other drivers. On Sept. 27, Vita Plus received Kaczorowski's pre-employment physical report, in which the examining doctor wrongly assessed him as a direct threat due to his diabetes. As a result, Vita Plus fired Kaczorowski the following day.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees because of disabilities. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vita Plus Corp., Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-12533) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Vita-Plus from discriminating against other employees with disabilities, equitable relief to provide equal opportunities for qualified employees with disabilities, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other affirmative relief for Kaczorowski.
"An employer cannot deny employment opportunities to an otherwise qualified applicant simply because a disability is discovered during a pre-employment physical," said EEOC Detroit Field Office Trial Attorney Omar Weaver. "Nor can an employer dodge its responsibility to conduct an individualized assessment of an applicant's ability to perform the job in question."
Vita Plus, headquartered in Madison, Wis., primarily manufactures livestock feed for dairy cows, beef cattle, and swine. It has facilities throughout the Midwest, including the Gagetown, Mich., facility where Kaczorowski worked.
The EEOC's Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio. EEOC is a federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.