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PRESS RELEASE
3-26-19

Mid South Extrusion to Pay $70,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Company  Fired Employee Due to Lung Issues, Federal Agency Charged

  NEW ORLEANS  -- Mid South Extrusion, Inc., a flexible packaging company based in Monroe, La.,  has agreed to pay $70,000 in lost wages and damages and provide other  significant relief to settle a disability lawsuit filed last year by the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced  today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit,  Mid South fired Jeffrey Wyant because he has a lung impairment. The suit  alleged that in June 2015, Wyant began having breathing problems at work and  saw several doctors, as a result of which he learned that he had health issues,  including reduced breathing capacity in his lungs. In response, Mid South  became concerned with Wyant's breathing issues and decided that working in a  plastics manufacturing facility would be harmful to his health. Immediately  after a coughing incident he had at work in September 2015, Mid South fired  him. The EEOC determined that Wyant was terminated on the basis of disability, about  one year after being hired.      

Such alleged conduct violates  the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action  No. 3:17-cv-01229-TAD-KLH) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of  Louisiana, Monroe Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process. Mid South denied liability. The  parties agreed to resolve the dispute by entering into a two-year consent  decree.

On March  22, 2019, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty signed and entered the decree. In  addition to the monetary award for Wyant, the decree provides for significant  non-monetary relief, including an injunction prohibiting any future  discrimination. Mid South is also bound under the decree to develop an  effective policy to protect applicants and/or employees from any form of  disability discrimination in the future, including making an intensive  individualized assessment in consultation with the employee, and, if need be, his  or her treating physicians, to determine if the employee can perform the  essential functions of the job and to determine if he or she is a safety  threat.

Additionally, the decree  requires that Mid South provide training about its policies and the ADA's requirements.  Mid South will report to the EEOC on its compliance with the decree and post an  "EEO Is the Law" poster for the employees and/or applicants to be aware of  their rights.    

"The law requires companies to  make an individualized assessment of an employee's ability to perform the  essential functions of his job, and not to rely on assumptions," said Rudy  Sustaita, regional attorney for EEOC's New Orleans and Houston offices. "The  EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Mr. Wyant whose rights against  disability discrimination are violated."

Michelle Butler, senior trial  attorney for the New Orleans Field Office, added, "This settlement is the best  avenue to address the concerns raised by the EEOC and Jeffrey Wyant's  complaints."

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.