Company Fired Employee it Regarded as Disabled, Federal Agency Charges
ORLANDO, Fla. - Pirtek USA LLC, a fluid power system company based in Rockledge, Fla., violated federal law by firing an employee because of a perceived disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the Pirtek employee of approximately 10 years was responsible for cutting and transporting hydraulic hoses. In late 2015, the employee was hospitalized for several weeks with pancreatitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. As of March 2016, the employee's physician cleared him to return to work without restrictions. Nevertheless, Pirtek terminated him, claiming he was a "liability" and that it was afraid he would get injured on the job, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability or perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Pirtek USA LLC, Case No. 6:19-cv-01853-CEM-GJK), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the discrimination victim, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
"The ADA is designed to prevent employers from discriminating against employees based on their actual and/or perceived disabilities," said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District. "Employment decisions based on stereotypes or unreasonable assumptions relating to disability are unlawful, and the EEOC will fight for those subjected to such unfair treatment."
Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC's Miami District, said, "No one should be subjected to disability discrimination at their place of work. The EEOC stands with victims of discrimination and remains committed to eradicating it from the workplace."
The EEOC's Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.