Health Magazine Harassed and Fired Worker With Disabilities, Made Newly Hired Workers Sign ‘Health Warranty,’ Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE – A Bowie, Md., health magazine will pay $58,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its suit (Civil Action No. RWT-10-02689), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, the EEOC said that Professional Media Corporation, trading as Your Health magazine, had a policy of forcing employees to sign a “health warranty” certifying their health and that they did not use medications. The EEOC also charged that the company harassed and then unlawfully fired an employee who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Auditory Processing Disorder (ADP).
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability and specifically provides that employers may not ask job applicants and employees about the existence, nature or severity of a disability. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit provides monetary relief of $58,000 to the fired employee and enjoins the company from continuing its “health warranty” policy. The decree contains a three-year injunction with continuing jurisdiction provisions to enable the EEOC to ensure that Your Health will comply with the ADA.
“This case shows that employers continue to make employment decisions based on uninformed prejudices and irrational fears,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence, said, “Employees with disabilities must be treated with the same dignity and respect as all other members of the work force. The EEOC will continue to enforce the ADA to protect the rights of disabled employees and applicants.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.