The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-8-09

EEOC SUES SILGAN CONTAINERS FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

Company Denied Job Accommodation to Disabled Employee And Required Improper Medical Examinations of All New Hires, Federal Agency Says

MILWAUKEE – The largest metal food can supplier in North America, Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, violated federal law by discriminating against a disabled employee at its plant in Oconomowoc, Wis., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit revealed that since early 2007, Silgan has discriminated against Richard L. Roth, who is missing three fingers on his left hand, by denying him a promotion and refusing to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for certain heavy lifting. EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, who supervised the investigation, said the investigation also indicated that Silgan has been violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring all of its applicants to undergo medical examinations before it makes conditional job offers.

Disability discrimination violates the ADA. The EEOC filed suit after first trying to reach a voluntary agreement to settle out of court. The agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Roth in addition to an order barring future discrimination and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, Civil Action No. 09-C-0853, was filed in federal district court in Milwaukee and assigned to U.S. District Judge Joseph Stadtmueller.

“Today, millions of disabled people are still being denied their chance to fully contribute to our society,” Rowe said. “Some employers are unwilling to recognize that simple accommodations can open the door to employment opportunity for everyone.”

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson noted, “The EEOC is very concerned when it appears that any employer has required job applicants to submit to physical examinations prior to making a condi­tional job offer. One of the fundamental principles of the ADA is that employers may not solicit medical information or require physical examinations unless it is relevant to job performance, which it cannot be until the employer has at least made a preliminary hire decision. That’s the issue at the heart of this case.”

According to its web site, Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation is owned by Silgan Containers Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silgan Holdings of Stamford, Conn. Silgan Containers is the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, with net sales of $1.79 billion in 2008 and manufacturing facilities in California, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It also operates the Silgan Technology Center in Oconomowoc, Wis., and the Silgan Equipment Company in Waukegan, Ill., as well as its headquarters in Woodland Hills, Calif.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


This page was last modified on September 8, 2009.

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