Luminant Mining and REDC Default Solutions Fired Disabled Employees Rather Than Providing Them A Reasonable Accommodation, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS - Two Texas companies violated federal law by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in two separate lawsuits filed in federal courts today.
In the EEOC's lawsuit against Luminant Mining (Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-895-LY, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division), the EEOC alleged that the company required employee James Tarver work on his feet for hours on hard concrete even though he has a club foot. Tarver and his physician had informed Luminant that standing on hard surfaces for more than one hour at a time caused him severe pain and weakness. Despite the fact that Tarver provided the company with medical documentation to support his request for a reasonable accommodation, Luminant fired him.
Similarly, according to the EEOC's suit against REDC Default Solutions, LLC, (Civil Action No. 3:12-3885 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas), the company, which provides services for auctions and alternatives to home foreclosures, denied an employee the reasonable accommodation of additional leave time that was required by her disability. The EEOC said that Terria Wiley went out on medical leave in March 2011 after suffering a stroke. In response to a letter from the company's HR director, Wiley promptly submitted a note from her treating physician indicating a specific date when she would be able to return to work without restrictions. The EEOC charged that instead of granting a modest extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation, REDC fired Wiley.
Refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to an individual with a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), unless granting that accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer. Reasonable accommodations can include adjustments as simple as providing a stool to sit on or granting extra sick leave.
The EEOC filed suit in both cases after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay and front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief to ensure no future discrimination.
"Although many individuals with disabilities can perform jobs without any accommodation, there are sometimes workplace barriers that would make job performance difficult if the employer is unwilling to make a reasonable, feasible adjustment," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "As these two cases demonstrate, barriers may be physical obstacles or procedures and rules. The ADA gives employees with disabilities such as the ones we see here a means to continue their employment with the benefit of an accommodation."
In fiscal year 2011, 25,642 ADA charges were filed with the EEOC and state and local anti-discrimination agencies, an increase of 20% from fiscal year 2009.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.