Federal Agency Charges Health Magazine Harassed and Fired Worker With Disabilities, Made Newly Hired Workers Sign “Health Warranty”
BALTIMORE – Professional Media Corporation, trading as Your Health Magazine, a health publication, violated federal law when it harassed and fired a bookkeeper because of her disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
In its suit (Civil Action No. RWT 10cv2689), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, EEOC charged that the Bowie, Md., magazine violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it harassed and fired a female bookkeeper because of her disabilities. She was hired in February 2008 as a bookkeeper and was able to satisfactorily perform her duties, the EEOC said.
In August 2008, the company owner, a Mr. Hunter, learned that the bookkeeper had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), and began a pattern of harassment. Hunter stated she could not do her job because she had ADHD, spoke to her in a condescending and abusive manner, threw papers and pencils in her direction and belittled her in front of coworkers. The hostile work environment culminated in her termination.
The EEOC further contends that since August 2008, Professional Media Corporation / Your Health Magazine violated the ADA when it required newly hired employees to sign a “health warranty” and state that they had no existing medical condition and did not take any drugs or narcotics for any medical, physical or psychological disorder as a condition of employment.
The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability and specifically provides that employers may not ask job applicants and employees about the existence, nature or severity of disability. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC’s suit seeks monetary and injunctive relief including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages as well as employment policies to eliminate future discrimination because of disability. The suit also seeks the rescission of the policy which requires all employees to warrant that they have no existing medical condition and are not required to take drugs or narcotics.
“Twenty years ago, the ADA became law, and employers need to follow it,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “When employers continue to make employment decisions based on uninformed prejudices and irrational fears, we will vigorously pursue all remedies to bring justice and equal opportunity to the workplace.”
According to its web site, (www.yourhealthmagazine.net) Your Health Magazine’s mission is “making a difference empowering and encouraging people to live healthier by going to the doctor!”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site at (www.eeoc.gov).