Human Resources News & Insights

These companies probably shouldn’t have fired their disabled employees

The cost of illegally firing employees with disabilities is still a pretty penny, as these two cases show.  

‘You want a leave extension? You’re fired’

In the first case, a telesales and data services company in Kennesaw, GA, has agreed to pay $135,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the company fired a customer service rep who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression.

The employee had taken short-term disability leave to try to treat her disability, and she later requested that her leave be extended for an additional four weeks.

According to the suit, the company fired her instead of granting the extension.

The woman went to the EEOC, which sued on her behalf. The company opted to settle.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the firm will provide equal employment opportunity training and post anti-discrimination notices.

Firm didn’t take kindly to infertility treatment

In the second case, a Hawaiian resort retailer will pay $60,000 to settle its own disability lawsuit.

According to the EEOC’s suit, a female employee told the company that she began treatments for infertility.

Shortly thereafter, the worker said a company official made offensive comments to her — and became frustrated when she announced she had become pregnant.

The staffer was disciplined after disclosing her need for treatment — and then fired when she disclosed her travel restrictions due to her pregnancy.

The woman went to the EEOC, which sued on her behalf, and the company opted to settle.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the company will

  • provide her with a neutral reference
  • hire a consultant to make sure the company abides by disability and anti-bias law
  • revise the company’s anti-discrimination policies and procedures
  • provide annual training for staff, and
  • hold supervisory staff accountable for engaging in or failing to address discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the job.

It’s on the EEOC’s radar

As the EEOC points out in its press releases for these two cases, one of the six national priorities identified by the agency’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is addressing emerging and developing issues in employment law, including issues involving the ADA.

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