Employee With Disabilities Denied a Reasonable Accommodation and Discharged After Seeking Two Days of Unpaid Leave, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA - American Woodmark Corporation, a wood cabinetry manufacturer, will pay $25,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, American Woodmark denied Erica Grier's request for an accommodation in the form of two days of unpaid leave in order to visit a doctor for treatment of her disabilities. Instead, American Woodmark assessed attendance infraction points to Grier, a 16-year employee of the company, under its rigid attendance policy. American Woodmark fired Grier for exceeding the permissible number of attendance points, despite her providing a doctor's note and updated Family Medical Leave Act forms showing she was absent for purposes of treatment and recovery relating to her disabilities.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual's disability. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:19-CV-381-TES) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. In addition to the monetary relief, American Woodmark agreed to create and implement an ADA policy, provide employment discrimination training to its employees, and to post anti-discrimination notices at its Jackson facility. In addition, the decree subjects American Woodmark to reporting and monitoring requirements.
"The use of intermittent medical leave for treatment of a medical condition deemed to be a disability under the ADA is widely recognized as a reasonable accommodation," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The EEOC is pleased that American Woodmark agreed to resolve this case and also that it agreed to implement an ADA policy and train its employees on its obligations under the ADA. The discrimination victim in this case has been compensated and the employer will be better equipped to respond the next time an applicant or employee seeks leave as an accommodation for a disability."
Darrell E. Graham, district director of the Atlanta office, said, "The EEOC is committed to ending disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. An employee should not be forced to risk termination for seeking medical leave as a perfectly reasonable accommodation under the ADA."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.