Company Fired Employee It Regarded as Disabled, Federal Agency Charges
ORLANDO, Fla. – Pirtek USA LLC, a fluid power system company based in Rockledge, Fla., has agreed to pay $85,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that Pirtek violated federal law by firing an employee because of a perceived disability. In late 2015, the employee was hospitalized for several weeks with pancreatitis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. In March 2016, the employee’s physician cleared him to return to work without restrictions. Nevertheless, Pirtek fired him, claiming that 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 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.
In addition to the $85,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit requires Pirtek to develop and distribute a written policy against disability discrimination and to conduct anti-discrimination training for management and human resources personnel. Pirtek must also post a notice at its worksite about the lawsuit and submit written reports twice a year to the EEOC.
“Too often employers rely upon unfounded assumptions about an employee’s ability to do his job, rather than the results of a medical examination,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District. “This settlement reflects the EEOC’s commitment to protecting the rights of employees to be free from disability discrimination in the workplace, including through litigation when necessary.”
Bradley Anderson, acting director of the EEOC’s Miami District, said, “Firing individuals because of a perceived disability is a long-standing violation of federal law. This resolution brings the EEOC closer to achieving its mission of eliminating disability discrimination from America’s workplace.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.