EEOC Sues Agropur for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Dairy Processor Fired Employee Rather Than Accommodate Her, Federal Agency Charges
 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Agropur, Inc., a diary processor and U.S. subsidiary of Canadian-based Agropur Cooperative, has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for failing to provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation, which resulted in her discharge, the federal agency announced today. The employee worked at Agropur’s Grand Rapids location with approximately 175 other employees.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Agropur refused to accommodate the employee’s severe dyshidrotic eczema, a skin condition. While working for Agropur, the employee learned she was allergic to rubber and plastics. She requested a reasonable accommodation, including the ability to wear a different type of glove while working. Instead of accommodating the employee, Agropur forced her to leave work when she had flare-ups. When she left work, she was penalized by receiving attendance points. Ultimately, Agropur fired her after she had accumulated attendance points that accrued as a direct result of the company’s failure to provide her with a reasonable accommodation.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan (EEOC v. Agropur, Inc., Case No. 1:21-cv-00765). The EEOC is seeking monetary relief for the employee and an injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in this type of conduct in the future.

“Agropur could have explored ways to accommodate this employee,” said Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC. “Instead, the company violated federal law by using a no-fault attendance policy to discharge this employee. This is a classic example of how an employer caused itself a great deal of unnecessary trouble by refusing an accommodation request.” Agropur, Inc. is a dairy processor that produces cheese, whey products, and dairy ingredients with its approximately 2,800 employees located throughout the United States. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Agropur Cooperative, a Canadian-based dairy processor.

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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