Plastics Manufacturer Fired Employee Because of His Disability, Federal Agency Charged
NEW ORLEANS -- A plastics manufacturer doing business in Monroe, La., violated federal law by firing an employee because of his actual and/or perceived disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit filed today in New Orleans federal district court.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Mid-South Extrusion, Inc., discharged maintenance technician Jeffrey Wyant after he informed the company of his 50% lung capacity breathing restriction resulting from undiagnosed childhood tuberculosis, which crystalized and became dormant because of prior exposure to asbestos. Wyant did not require any accommodation and was able to perform the essential functions of his job without any restrictions. The suit further alleged the company did not conduct any intensive individualized assessment of Wyant to determine if his condition affected his ability to perform the essential functions of the position as mandated by the law before discharging him.
Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-01229) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination as well as back pay, compensatory damages, pecuniary losses and punitive damages for Wyant.
"It is unlawful for an employee to discharge an employee with a disability because of his medical condition(s) if he is able to perform the essential functions of his job with or without any accommodation," said Keith Hill, field director for the EEOC's New Orleans office.
Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC's New Orleans and Houston offices, said, "Employers have an obligation to engage in discussions with employees to determine if they are able to perform the essential functions of their jobs, with or without accommodation."
Michelle Butler, senior trial attorney for the New Orleans Field Office, added, "Mr. Wyant was performing his duties without any restrictions, but once he informed the employer of his medical issues, he was discharged based on an unsubstantiated determination that he was not able to perform his duties. This is unlawful as well as unjust, and the EEOC is here to fight such discrimination."
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.