EEOC Sues Windstream for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Company Failed to Accommodate Diabetic Employee, Federal Agency Charges

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Major network communications giant Windstream Communications violated federal law by failing to accommodate a diabetic employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to EEOC's suit, Windstream hired an employee as an Associate Network Analyst at its Little Rock location in May of 2013.  When the employee began working the late night shift, she experienced extreme blood sugar level fluctuations due to interruptions in her sleep patterns and requested as a reasonable accommodation, a transfer to another shift.   The company denied her request for a reasonable accommodation, and the employee was forced to resign.                             

Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 (ADAAA).  EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-597-SWW, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Windstream from discriminating against employees with disabilities, compensatory and punitive damages, and back pay for the employee.

"Companies must not force an employee to choose between her health and her job," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. "They must engage in an interactive process to determine if they can accommodate the employee and must do so absent an undue hardship."

According to its website, Windstream, a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone, and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.  Incorporated in Delaware, Windstream employs over 12,000 employees. 

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about 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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