Egg Producer Harassed, Retaliated Against, and Constructively Discharged a Disabled Employee, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - A Saranac, Michigan egg producer will pay $93,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged that Herbruck Poultry Ranch, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting a worker to a hostile work environment because of her disability and by retaliating against her for complaining about the discriminatory treatment.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, a disabled employee experienced frequent mocking by her supervisor and coworkers about her disability-related symptoms. The Commission further alleged that Herbruck failed to take adequate remedial measures in response to the harassment, retaliated against the worker for complaining about it, and constructively discharged her through escalating harassment, which included her supervisor's following her into a bathroom and initiating a confrontation with the disabled employee on her last day at work.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers provide a workplace free of disability-based harassment and prohibits retaliation against disabled employees who complain of harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids (Case No. 1:19-cv-00165) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, the two and a half-year consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief, revisions and amendments to Herbruck's discrimination and harassment policies, and training for all employees on the requirements of the ADA.
"We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree," said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. "The revised policies and training provide meaningful protections for the employees of Herbruck from disability-based harassment. With this resolution, Herbruck has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of disabled employees in the workplace."
The EEOC's Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio. 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.