MILWAUKEE – The company that operates the IHG Army Hotel at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin will pay $60,000 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, PML Services, LLC, which does business as IHG Army Hotels on Fort McCoy, fired an employee with epilepsy after she experienced a seizure at home after work. The EEOC alleged that the employee, who had worked for the Fort McCoy hotel for several months, called her supervisor to ask for two days off from work to recover from the seizure. When she returned to work, the employee’s supervisor and the hotel’s manager fired the employee, citing the fact that her disability-related absences occurred within her probationary period.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA prohibits disability discrimination at all stages of employment, including during an employee’s introductory or probationary period. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. PML Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 3:18- cv- 00805) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The two-year consent decree includes $60,000 in monetary relief for the employee, as well as an injunction prohibiting disability discrimination and retaliation and requiring the company to consider reasonable accommodations that would allow employees with disabilities to successfully do their jobs. The decree also requires employee training on the ADA; reporting to the EEOC about reasonable accommodation requests from employees; and a clearer policy emphasizing that employees with disabilities who are in their introductory period at IHG Army Hotels may be entitled to medical leave as a reasonable accommodation.
“Employers should know discrimination against employees with episodic conditions such as epilepsy is illegal under the ADA and that medical leave during such episodes may be considered a reasonable accommodation,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, added, “An employer cannot decline to make reasonable accommodations for a disability or follow the other requirements of the ADA simply because an employee is considered ‘probationary’ or has only worked for a short period of time.”
The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.