German Companies Fired Memphis Employee Due to Bipolar Disorder, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Probat, Inc. and Probat Burns, Inc., d/b/a Bauermeister, Inc., German-based companies which roast and grind coffee beans and other food products in Memphis, will pay $100,000 to settle a disability lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC filed suit against Bauermeister on behalf of a former mechanic employed since 1993. In 1998, the former employee was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began taking medications for the condition. He was able to perform his job well. About 2002, his physician removed him from his medications. Management changed at the company in 2007. After suffering a manic episode in 2009, the former employee's psychologists and psychiatrists cleared him to return to work. The EEOC alleged Bauermeister refused to return the former employee to work and discharged him after learning of his bipolar diagnosis.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, including mental disabilities. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-02851) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, after first attempting to settle the matter through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, the terms of the two-year consent decree announced today require Bauermeister to:
create and distribute to all its employees a written disability policy prohibiting disability discrimination;
develop procedures for handling requests for reasonable accommodations;
provide ADA training for all senior management officials in its U.S. facilities;
maintain records of any disability complaints;
provide reports to the EEOC; and
post a notice to employees about the lawsuit that includes the EEOC's contact information.
"The EEOC takes seriously its charge to eliminate employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities and remains committed to enforcing the ADA," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC's Memphis District Office. "The provisions obtained in the consent decree will ensure that employees with disabilities will receive equal opportunity in the workplace."
Addressing emerging and developing issues under the ADA (including issues such as reasonable accommodation, undue hardship and direct threat), is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission in the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.