Bank Fired Manager Instead of Accommodating Her Disability, Federal Agency Says
BALTIMORE - Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company, doing business as M&T Bank, violated federal law when it refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and instead fired a bank manager after she returned from protected leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to EEOC's suit, Candace McCollin had worked as a branch manager for M&T Bank for several years, most recently at M&T's Edmonson Village location in Baltimore, when she told the bank's administrative vice president that she was pregnant and suffered from a medical condition that had caused her prior miscarriages. McCollin said that she would need surgery to prevent another miscarriage. Following the vice president's instructions, McCollin went on leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and filed for short-term disability benefits. While she was on leave, however, M&T advised McCollin that the bank would fill her position unless she was medically cleared to return to work within ten days, EEOC said.
After giving birth months later and receiving medical clearance to return to work, M&T forced McCollin to apply for vacant positions for which she was qualified. However, M&T failed to reassign McCollin to vacant positions for which she was qualified, including to 24 vacant branch manager or assistant branch manager positions in the greater Baltimore region because of her disability or record of a disability, EEOC charged.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability or a record of a disability. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate an individual's disability unless the employer can prove that doing so would be an undue hardship. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co., d/b/a M&T Bank., Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-03180-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Our investigation showed that there were two dozen vacant positions for which Ms. McCollin was qualified in the weeks before and after her termination. M&T could easily have transferred her as a reasonable accommodation instead of firing her because of her disability," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation such as unpaid leave or transfer to a vacant position. EEOC will take robust action if an employer blatantly refuses to meet its legal obligations."
EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.