Employee Fired for Refusing to Agree to Invasive Inquiries, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC, a Dallas-based electric utility company, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Delores McCraney, a representative who worked for Oncor for 13 years, was fired from Oncor's Dallas headquarters when she refused to sign an agreement promising to abide by a company requirement to disclose, directly to her supervisor, all medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, that could affect job performance, including dosages and changes of dosages.
The EEOC said that this broad requirement violated the prohibition against medical inquiries of employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability in the workplace. Under EEOC guidance, inquiries about employees' medications are permitted only in limited circumstances, in positions affecting public safety, and only where the employer can demonstrate that an employee's impaired ability to perform job duties will result in a direct threat.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Case No 3:18-cv-01786, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. In this case, the EEOC sought back pay plus compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring similar violations in the future.
The three-year consent decree settling the suit, approved by order of U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings on, September 9, 2019, prohibits future discrimination and retaliation. In addition to the monetary relief, the company must disseminate its revised policy to all employees; provide annual training regarding the very limited new rule as to medication disclosures; provide avenues for reporting violations of the new policy; and warn of discipline for any manager who continues the prior discriminatory practices.
"Workers with disabilities that may not be obvious, but become known through identification of certain medications, should be allowed to work without being subject to exclusion or limitations imposed because of myths, fears and stereotypes about such conditions," said EEOC Trial Attorney Toby Wosk Costas. "These types of personal disclosures are exactly what the ADA was enacted almost 30 years ago to prevent."
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney of the EEOC's Dallas District Office, added, "We appreciate the willingness of Oncor to make its practices less intrusive and more respectful of employees' privacy interests regarding health conditions or impairments."
Oncor is a regulated electric utility company that provides service to approximately 10 million customers across Texas, including the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
The EEOC's Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.