Last month, the EEOC announced that S&C Electric Company was to pay $315,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.
S&C employee Richard Rascher had worked at the Chicago headquartered company as a principal designer for over 52 years. Then in 2014, he took a 12-month disability leave to address a cancer diagnosis and broken hip. At the end of the leave, Rascher attempted to return to work at S&C. He provided his employer with a doctor’s note detailing that Rascher could return to his mostly sedentary role without restrictions. Despite this notice, S&C discharged Rascher following an examination by an S&C contracted doctor.
Following his discharge, Rascher and the EEOC, attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement with S&C. After failing to reach a settlement, Rascher and the EEOC filed a suit against S&C in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to the suit, S&C violated the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) when they fired Rascher. After a failed motion to dismiss the suit, S&C entered an 18-month consent decree, settling the suit.
In addition to a $315,000 monetary payment to Rascher’s estate, S&C is also required to:
- Provide the EEOC with records of employees who file a complaint after being terminated following a medical leave of absence.
- Provide ADA compliance trainings to HR and medical evaluation employees.
StraightforWARD Legal Advice:
“It is illegal for an employer to insist an employee retire when returning from an approved medical leave when the employee is cleared to go back to work.”
It’s hard to disagree with this statement from Gregory Gochanour (EEOC regional attorney). Had S&C Electric Company heeded this warning, they could have saved themselves $315,000 and a whole lotta headache.
As a reminder, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers with 15+ employees from treating employees or applicants adversely because they have/are regarded as having/or had a disability. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to an individual with a disability, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.
Employers should review policies to ensure ADA compliance and provide ADA training for relevant employees. For help with ADA compliance, employers should contact Christopher Curci at email@example.com or at 215-647-6603.