Power Industry Contractor Punished Worker for Filing Disability Bias Charge, Federal Agency Asserts
BOSTON -- Day & Zimmermann NPS, a provider of staffing services to the power industry, unlawfully retaliated against a worker who filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and sought to interfere with the rights of employees to communicate with EEOC, the federal agency claimed in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's suit, Gregory Marsh, an electrician hired by Day & Zimmermann NPS to work during a power plant shutdown, filed a charge with EEOC alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Day & Zimmermann NPS publicized Marsh's charge, including his name and details about the medical restrictions on his ability to work, to 146 members of his union local, EEOC said. By publicizing Marsh's charge in this manner, Day & Zimmermann NPS sought to interfere with the rights of workers and witnesses to communicate freely with the EEOC and to file charges of their own, EEOC charged.
This alleged conduct violates the ADA's prohibitions against retaliation and interference with the rights guaranteed under the statute. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for Connecticut (EEOC v. Day & Zimmermann NPS, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-1416) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Charges and communication with employees are critical to EEOC's role as primary enforcer of the nation's fair employment practices laws because they inform the agency of employer practices that might violate those laws," EEOC Trial Attorney Sara Smolik explained. "For this reason, the right to communicate with EEOC is protected by federal law. When an employer punishes those who exercise that right, the employer is effectively seeking to silence employees who have information about potential violations of the law. When Day & Zimmermann NPS publicized Mr. Marsh's EEOC charge to his colleagues and witnesses, it sent a clear message of intimidation to the workforce."
"The agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan identified 'preserving access to the legal system' as one of EEOC's six enforcement priorities," EEOC District Director Kevin Berry added. "The importance of employees' ability to file charges with EEOC and to participate in its processes, free from fear of adverse consequences, cannot be overstated. Any action that confirms that fear and makes it harder for employees to come forward, increases the risk that discrimination will go without remedy."
EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about
the commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov .