Sierra Academy of Aeronautics to Settle EEOC Disability and Retaliation Lawsuit

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

Flight Instruction Companies Fired Employee With Disability for Taking a Medical Leave of Absence, Federal Agency Charged

FRESNO, Calif. –KS Aviation, Inc., doing business as the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Atwater, Calif., and Xing Kong Aviation Service, LLC have agreed to pay $10,000 and provide other injunctive relief to settle a disability and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee of Sierra Academy asked for a medical leave of absence due to her disability. The company failed to engage in the interactive process required by law when informed of her disability and request, and instead fired her as retaliation, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to a disability or retaliate against her for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. KS Aviation, Inc. dba Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, et al., Case No. CV-18-00744-NONE-SKO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit includes injunc­tive relief to prevent further workplace discrimination. Sierra Academy will review and revise its poli­cies to achieve compliance with the ADA, provide regular ADA training to employees, and maintain data on any discrimination or retaliation complaints. A designated human resources manager will monitor compliance, implement training, and oversee recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The court will retain jurisdiction during the decree’s term.

“We continue to see employers failing to engage in the interactive process required by federal law,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Fresno in its jurisdiction. “We encourage training on how to identify requests for accommodation and how to meet obligations under the ADA.”

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “Retaliation remains a pervasive issue in American workplaces. Employees with disabilities cannot be retaliated against for simply needing accommodations to help them perform their work duties.”

According to its website, en.sierraacademy.com, Sierra Academy of Aeronautics is an inter­national training center that aims to provide high-quality flight training services.

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.

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