Disabled worker settles EEOC discrimination lawsuit

Federal law prohibits employers in Texas and around the country from discriminating against workers based on disability, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency tasked with holding companies responsible when this law is violated. A case dealing with these issues involved a woman employed as a server at a Florida restaurant who was fired in 2016 after suffering a series of seizures while on the job.

Employers will often seek to settle these matters discretely to avoid the publicity of a civil trial, which is the path the defendant appears to have taken. On April 23, the EEOC announced that the restaurant had agreed to pay the fired server $31,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the agency. In addition to paying the former employee damages, the restaurant has agreed to put a policy into place to prevent future discrimination and train both its management and non-management employees about the laws dealing with equal opportunities in the workplace.

When it terminated her employment, the restaurant told the woman that she posed a threat to herself and others because she was either unable or unwilling to manage her epilepsy. Prior to being fired, the woman had been cleared to return to work after producing a doctor's note. The EEOC determined that the restaurant's actions violated the provisions of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Attorneys with experience in this area may take action on behalf of disabled workers for violations of the ADA even in the absence of termination. The law, which was amended to provide more comprehensive coverage in 2008, prohibits employers from making unreasonable demands for medical examinations or information and requires them to make reasonable accommodations to disabled workers.

Source: HR Dive, "Golden Corral pays $31K after firing worker for alleged unwillingness to manage seizure condition", Lisa Burden, April 30, 2019

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