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PRESS RELEASE
3-30-11

South Basin Packing to Pay $80,000 To Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Federal Agency Obtains Remedy for Capable Worker Fired Solely for His Disability

PORTLAND, Ore. – A potato and onion packager based in Umatilla, Ore., has agreed to pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit had charged that South Basin Packing fired a worker immediately after he informed the company of his recent diagnosis for a chronic medical condition.

Firing an employee due to a disability violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to explore with the employee reasonable accommodations for his disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. South Basin Packing, LLC, CV-10-1194-SU) in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon after a neutral investigation conducted by EEOC Investigator Bryne Moore and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Our investigation found that this employee was fully capable of doing his job,” said Michael Baldonado, director of the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office. “The ADA seeks to ensure that competent workers do not fall victim to myths and stereotypes about disabilities. Fortunately, the measures that South Basin has agreed to implement will protect their employees with disabilities from facing this kind of treatment again.”

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, South Basin will pay $80,000 to the fired worker. In addition, the company will draft new policies and train all employees, including management, on preventing disability discrimination. South Basin will also report on its handling of disability-related complaints to the EEOC for the next three years.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “This settlement should emphasize to employers that hiring and firing decisions must be based on facts -- whether or not an applicant or employee has the ability to do the job -- and not fears concerning disability.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.