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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin: Featuring Disability, Pregnancy, and Age (Mar. 11, 2018)

ABM AVIATION SUED BY EEOC FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
Employee Denied Reasonable Accommodation and Discharged Due to Medical Restrictions, Federal Agency Charged

ATLANTA – ABM Aviation, Inc., formerly Air Serv Corporation, an aviation industry cleaning and services provider at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., violated federal law when it denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and terminated her employment due to her disabilities, cardiomyopathy and acute myeloid leukemia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC further alleged that ABM discriminated against the employee when it suspended her for absences related to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. ABM Aviation, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-957-SCJ JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“ABM recklessly disregarded the federally protected rights of this employee to earn a living and provide for her family given a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to honor anti-discrimination laws if we are to see significant, long-term change in the way society views individuals with disabilities and the value they add to the workforce.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Supporting the medical needs of their employees to allow reasonable accommodations of disabilities should be a top priority for all employers not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.”

SCOTTISH PINES REHABILITATION & NURSING CENTER SUED BY EEOC FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Laurinburg Nursing Home Refused to Accommodate and Fired Pregnant Nursing Assistants, Federal Agency Charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc., doing business as Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, a North Carolina corporation, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related work restrictions of two employees, resulting in the employees’ termination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Scottish Pines offered light duty or job modifications to accommodate the temporary restrictions of certified nursing assistants (CNA) who were injured at work. However, the company refused to grant similar accommodations or modifications to CNAs who experienced pregnancy-related work restrictions. The EEOC says that in November 2014, the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related lifting restriction of CNA Mary Jacobs and instead placed her on unpaid leave. The company terminated Jacobs in February 2015 when her leave expired and she was unable to return to work without the pregnancy-related restriction.

Further, the EEOC says, in December 2015, CNA Laketa Watts notified Scottish Pines of her pregnancy-related work restrictions, including a 20-pound lifting restriction. According to the EEOC’s suit, the company refused to accommodate Watts’ work restrictions. At all times relevant, the company had mechanical lifting devices to lift patients and did not prohibit CNAs from seeking assistance from co-workers to manually lift patients. Accordingly, the EEOC contends that Jacobs’ and Watts’ pregnancy-related work restrictions could have been accommodated

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including pregnancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Century Care of Laurinburg, Inc. d/b/a Scottish Pines Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Civil Action No 1:18-cv-00170) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Jacobs and Watts.

“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”

IT STAFFING COMPANY PAYS $50,000 TO SETTLE EEOC AGE DISCRIMINATION SUIT
Company Told Applicant “Age Will Matter,” Federal Agency Says

NEWARK, N.J. — Diverse Lynx, LLC, a Princeton, New Jersey-based IT staffing firm with offices in Princeton and Noida, India, will pay $50,000 and will undertake significant remedial measures to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC alleged that Diverse Lynx violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when, after learning an applicant’s date of birth, the company sent the applicant an email stating that he would no longer be considered for the position because he was “born in 1945” and “age will matter.” The ADEA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age, including discrimination in referrals by employment agencies.

Under the consent decree entered by the Court, Diverse Lynx is prohibited from considering an applicant’s age when deciding whether to refer them to a job opening. In addition, Diverse Lynx may not request or solicit an applicant’s year of birth before referring the applicant to a prospective employer. Diverse Lynx has agreed that it will provide its employees, including its managers and supervisors, with live training that addresses federal anti-discrimination laws, and complaint and reporting procedures. Diverse Lynx also agrees that it will not retaliate against persons who complain of discriminatory conduct or practices.

“A basic principle of anti-discrimination law requires that job applicants be judged on their individual qualifications. Employers and employment agencies that consider an applicant’s protected trait, such as age, violate federal law and will be prosecuted,” said EEOC senior trial attorney Rosemary DiSavino.

Kevin Berry, district director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “This case should send a clear message that federal anti-discrimination laws apply to employment agencies as well as employers. An employment agency’s refusal to refer a qualified applicant because of the applicant’s age is a plain violation of the ADEA.”

The New York District Office oversees New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and most of New Jersey.

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