For employees in Texas and across the country, the right to communication with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is protected under federal law. One of the EEOC’s enforcement priorities is preserving access to the system for employees facing discrimination on the job. There are a number of actions that employers can take that can chill employees’ freedom to report discrimination to the EEOC, and those actions are unlawful.
In one case, a company issued a letter from its in-house attorney to employees regarding an EEOC lawsuit alleging that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letter included the employee’s name who filed the EEOC complaint, the specific allegations made by the employee, the employee’s disability and the accommodations that the worker sought to continue in their job successfully.
While the employer claimed that it only wrote the letter because other staff members might be contacted to follow up on the investigation, the EEOC charged that the detailed information included in the letter had the potential of a chilling effect on other workers and was therefore prohibited interference under the ADA. It may cause other employees to fear coming forward as their own private information could be exposed to all of their co-workers. A settlement was reached in November 2017, in which the company agreed to “extensive injunctive relief” as well as a $45,000 payment to the original complaint filer to the EEOC.
Employees who have suffered discrimination at work due to a disability might have recourse to their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA not only protects people’s right to work with a disability, it also prevents employers from retaliating or interfering with claims of discrimination. An employment lawyer can help a worker pursue a claim for discrimination and seek compensation.