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Minnesota-Based Employer Solutions Group Sued by EEOC for Firing Employee Who Needed Crutches

Company Violated the Disabilities Act by Firing Employee Who Needed Crutches After Surgery for Torn ACL, Federal Agency Contends

MINNEAPOLIS - Employer Solutions Group., LLC (ESG), a payroll servicing company head­quartered in Eden Prairie, Minn., violated federal law by firing an employee because she needed crutches after surgery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee, who worked as an account manager, needed to use crutches for a short time after she returned to work following her surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), part of the knee joint. The EEOC charged that ESG discriminated against the employee based on her actual and perceived disability, and in retaliation for her request to work with crutches.

Firing an employee because of a real or perceived disability, or because the employee requested a reasonable accommodation, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed its lawsuit, EEOC v. Employer Solutions Group, LLC, Case No. 0:19-cv-02315, in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process.

"The issue here was so minor," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the Chicago district office. "This employee needed to use crutches for a short time after returning from short-term disability leave. The employer fired her for it, which was inappropriate, short-sighted and unlawful." 

Greg Gochanour, regional attorney for the Chicago district, added, "Employers must remember that even relatively short-termed impairments can be recognized as disabilities under the law if they are sufficiently severe, which they were here. The employer's decision to fire its account manager because she needed crutches for a few weeks is just inexplicable as well as illegal."

The EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office is part of the agency's Chicago District Office, which is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimin­ation, admin­istrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.