Auto Giant Refused Disabled Employee’s Request to Telework And Fired Her Instead, Federal Agency Charges
DETROIT – Ford Motor Company, Inc. has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled employee at its Dearborn, Mich., facility. Instead of accommodating her, Ford retaliated against her by subjecting her to progressive discipline and ultimately firing her, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed on August 26, 2011.
The lawsuit (EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, Inc., Case No. 2:11CV13742), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleges that Ford violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to let Jane Harris participate in its liberal telecommuting program as a reasonable accommodation for her gastro-intestinal condition. Instead, Ford began to criticize her performance, placed her on a “performance enhancement plan,” and discharged her only months after she complained about being denied an accommodation.
“Failing to offer a reasonable accommodation to an employee and then discharging her under these circumstances is a clear violation of the ADA,” said Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC. “Ford denied Ms. Harris’s request without considering its legal obligations.”
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for Harris, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.
With more than 200,000, employees and operations worldwide, Ford currently ranks as the second largest automaker in the United States.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.