Human Resources News & Insights

EEOC: You don’t even have to be disabled to be ADA-protected

A recent lawsuit by the EEOC provides another example of just how broad the ADA’s employee protections really are. 

Actions taken against individuals who are perceived to have a disability can also trigger legal action against employers — even if the individuals aren’t actually disabled.

Case in point: Plasma Biological Services LLC and Interstate Blood Bank terminated an employee because the employer believed that he had a viral marker (i.e., the presence of an active infection in the person’s blood), according to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

The agency said Plasma Biological Services’ action was a clear violation of the ADA.

According to the EEOC, the plasma collection center placed an employee on a deferred donor list after an initial screening for a plasma donation by the worker indicated he had a viral marker. Then, when the man’s supervisor learned he’d been placed on the deferred donor list, the employee was terminated.

Subsequent tests later revealed the employee didn’t have a viral marker.

The EEOC said firing an employee because of a perceived disability or for having a record of disability is a violation of the ADA.

What’s it going to cost?

Rather than let the litigation run its course, Plasma Biological Services agreed to pay $60,000 to settle the EEOC’s disability discrimination lawsuit.

In addition to the $60K in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree also:

  • prohibits the employer, its supervisors and managers from failing to hire any applicant or from discharging any employee because of a positive test for a viral marker
  • requires the employer to updates its policies to state that it doesn’t maintain a policy of refusing to hire applicants or a policy of discharging any employee because of a positive test for a viral marker
  • requires the employer to maintain separate medical and personnel files
  • requires the employer to provide annual disability training for its managers, supervisors, and the president at all of its facilities during the decree’s three-year term, and
  • requires ADA notice posting, reporting and monitoring.
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