Staffing Agency and Manufacturer Denied Accommodations to Long-Term Temporary Worker with Kidney Condition, then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charges
BUFFALO, NY - Remedy Intelligent Staffing, LLC (Remedy), a California-based staffing firm, and Lornamead, Inc. (Lornamead), a manufacturer headquartered in New York City, violated federal law when they refused to provide reasonable accommodation to a long- term temporary employee that would have enabled him to continue to work after his kidney condition worsened and instead terminated his employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit, David Gaiser II was hired by Remedy and assigned to work as a general laborer at Lornamead, Inc.'s Tonawanda, New York facility in June 2013. During his employment, Gaiser was diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a chronic condition characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. In June 2016, Gaiser was assigned to run a machine that required continual bending and twisting, which aggravated his kidney condition and caused him severe pain. Gaiser asked for a chair to minimize his bending and twisting, but Lornamead refused.
Gaiser then provided Remedy with a note from his doctor explaining that repeated bending and twisting could exacerbate Gaiser's kidney condition and recommending he refrain from extreme bending, twisting, or lifting, which could predispose him to a cyst rupture. Gaiser suggested several accommodations that could enable him to perform his job duties, including allowing him to sit while operating manual machines, assigning him to a different machine, or assigning him to one of the assembly lines. Instead, Lornamead directed Remedy to end Gaiser's three-year assignment at Lornamead. Remedy failed to place Gaiser at another job with a different client.
This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Lornamead, Inc. and Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv- 00841) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo Division, after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Gaiser, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.
"Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office. "As joint employers, Remedy and Lornamead both failed to comply with their obligations under the law, and unnecessarily deprived the employee of a job he enjoyed and performed successfully for three years."
Kevin Berry, district director of the New York Office, said, "The ADA requires a two- way interactive process between the employer and the employee. Remedy and Lornamead rejected the options proposed by the employee and failed to offer any alternatives that would have allowed him to keep his job. Firing someone who needs an accommodation due to a disability is against the law and the EEOC will hold employers accountable."
According to company information, Remedy is the franchise division of Employbridge, one of the largest staffing firms in the world with over 490 locations. Lornamead, part of the Li and Fung group, manufactures and distributes hair care, skin care, oral care, and bath products to retailers throughout North America.
The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.