Gas Field Specialists to Pay $184,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Case

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

Company Fired 15-Year Employee Because of Cancer History, Federal Agency Charged

PHILADELPHIA – Gas Field Specialists, Inc. (GFS), a Potter County, Pennsylvania-based natural gas well service company, will pay $184,000 and provide significant injunctive and other non-monetary relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee who had been with the company for 15 years was laid off and then terminated based on a disability or record of disability. The EEOC contended that GFS fired the employee because he had a history of cancer. The suit further alleges that an owner of the company told the employee that the company didn’t want him to get sick with COVID-19 and had to lay off anyone with health issues during the COVID pandemic.

Such alleged conduct violates the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on disability, or subjecting employees to disparate terms and conditions of employment and/or a hostile work environment, layoff, termination or forcing an employee to quit, based on a real or perceived disability or history of disability.

The consent decree settling the suit requires that GFS pay the employee $174,000 in lost wages and $10,000 in compensatory damages. It also enjoins GFS from violating the ADA in the future, including from taking adverse actions against employees on the basis that they have health conditions that could expose them to a higher risk of health complications were they to contract COVID-19. The decree also requires GFS to document its reasons whenever employees are not recalled from seasonal layoff. The company will also provide training on the ADA to its managers and human resources staff.

In addition, GFS must provide reports to the EEOC detailing its compliance with terms of the decree and its receipt of any complaints of disability discrimination. The court will retain authority to enforce the terms of the decree for its three-year duration.

“Employers have an obligation to make personnel decisions without regard to employees’ medical history,” said Philadelphia District Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The unlawful employment practices, in this case, are unacceptable in our nation’s workplaces. This monetary settlement is an affirmation of who we are and what we believe as a country: that workplace discrimination is unacceptable and illegal.”

Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson stated, “Many employees diagnosed with cancer choose to work through their condition -- because, after all, they still have to make ends meet. This employee lost his job because this employer failed to provide full inclusion for people with disabilities.”

For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

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.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

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