EEOC Sues Professional Freezing Services for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Federal Agency Charged Cold Storage Warehouse and Distribution Company Failed to Hire Applicant Because of Prostate Cancer

CHICAGO - Professional Freezing Services, a cold storage warehouse and distribution company serving the Chicago area, violated federal law by failing to hire an applicant for its warehouse manager position because he had prostate cancer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's administrative investigation, Professional Freezing Services refused to hire William Harvel for its warehouse manager position after learning that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. EEOC District Director John P. Rowe, who supervised the investigation said, "We found that Professional Freezing refused to go forward with Havel's hire-which had been in the works for some time-because it found out he had cancer."

Denying employment to someone because of a disability, such as cancer, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. Professional Freezing Services, Civil Action No. 13 C 4183, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its statutory conciliation process. The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Harvel and an order barring future discrimination and other relief.

"Under federal law, the fact that a prospective employee has cancer or any other disability is irrelevant. The question is whether he or she can do the job, and if he or she needs a reasonable accommodation to do so which the employer can provide without incurring an undue hardship. That's it," said John Hendrickson, the EEOC Regional Attorney for the Chicago District Office. "Our position in this case is straight-forward-Havel could have done the job. Professional Freezing violated the ADA in refusing to complete the process of bringing him on board."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website 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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