Company Fired Texas Woman Over Post-Stroke Condition, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - An Irvine, Calif.-based company will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged REDC Default Solutions, LLC with unlawfully failing to accommodate a disabled worker at its Plano, Texas location.
According to the EEOC's suit (Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-03885-D in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas), the company denied an employee the reasonable accommodation of additional leave time that was required by her disability. The EEOC said that Asset Manager Terria Wiley went out on medical leave in March 2011 after suffering a stroke. In response to a letter from the company's HR director, Wiley promptly submitted a note from her treating physician indicating a specific date when she would be able to return to work without restrictions. The EEOC charged that instead of granting a modest extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation, REDC fired Wiley.
Refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to an individual with a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), unless granting that accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer. Reasonable accommodations can include adjustments as simple as providing a stool to sit on or granting extra sick leave. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"The EEOC brought this lawsuit because the company was unwilling to be flexible and reasonable in considering Ms. Wiley's request for an extended leave period," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "Federal law gives employees with disabilities, like Ms. Wiley, a means to continue their employment with the benefit of an accommodation."
EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan L. Shepard said, "Accrued paid leave or additional unpaid leave can be a reasonable accommodation under the law. Ms. Wiley was able to come back and do her job at REDC, and simply required a short amount of additional time to recover from her stroke before she could do so. We are pleased to get this case settled so favorably for her."
According to company information, REDC, a subsidiary of Auction.com, is a third-party service provider retained nationwide to facilitate short sales, deed in lieu of foreclosure transactions, and other foreclosure alternatives. Auction.com is a liquidator of affordable land and is the nation's largest auctioneer of developed and raw land parcels.
In fiscal year 2012, 26,379 ADA charges were filed with the EEOC and state and local anti-discrimination agencies.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.