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Otto Candies to Pay $165,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Marine Transportation Provider Fired Deckhand Because of His Recurrent Pancreatitis, Federal Agency Charged

NEW ORLEANS - Otto Candies, LLC has agreed to pay a former employee $165,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. Otto Candies, which is based in Des Allemands, La., provides marine transportation services in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Shawn McLamb had been working as a deckhand on one of Otto Candies' many vessels. The EEOC said that the company told McLamb that it was firing him because his recurrent pancreatitis - a condition that can cause infrequent and brief bouts of severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting - had rendered him unqualified for the job. The EEOC alleged that Otto Candies took this action even though the condition had not impeded McLamb's work over the past ten years and even though his doctor and the U.S. Coast Guard had both determined that the condition would not impede his work in the future.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire - or otherwise discriminate against - an employee because the employer knows, or assumes, that the employee has or had a disability. 

The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 17-9584) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana last year. Under the two-year consent decree settling the suit, Otto Candies will pay McLamb $165,000 in monetary relief and provide a variety of other, non-monetary relief. For instance, the decree requires that the company train its employees on the requirements imposed by the ADA.

"This settlement is both strong and just," said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC's Houston District Office. "Otto Candies has given us every indication that it intends to comply with the ADA in the future." 

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.