A&A Contracting Fired Worker Because of Health History, Federal Agency Charged
ST. LOUIS -- A&A Contracting, a St. Louis construction company, has agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s suit, which was filed last fall, charged that the company violated federal law by firing one of its permanent construction workers because it regarded him as disabled due to his history of liver and kidney problems, including cancer.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are disabled, have a record of disability or who are regarded as disabled. At the time of his termination, the EEOC said, Rick Wells was in good health and had been cleared to work by his doctor, but A&A Contracting became aware of his health history when he applied for the company’s health insurance coverage.
The settlement agreement, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (EEOC v. A&A Contracting, Case No. 09-cv-01060, E.D. Mo.), provides for payment of $17,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to Mr. Wells; implementation of a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy; training of all management employees; and designation of a human resources professional to consult and participate in HR-related matters.
“While it was important to the EEOC that Mr. Wells be compensated for his lost wages and the humiliation of being fired for a perceived disability, we are equally pleased that this settlement means that another St. Louis employer will be taking important steps to prevent any similar problems in the future,” said Barbara A. Seely, Regional Attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office.
James R. Neely, District Director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, said, “Even small employers need to keep themselves educated and informed of the law’s requirements. At the time Mr. Wells was fired, A&A Contracting had approximately 20-25 employees. Any business with that size work force needs to make sure that they have clear, effective anti-discrimination policies and that they provide thorough, comprehensive anti-discrimination training to its managers and employees on a regular basis.”
The EEOC St. Louis District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and southern Illinois, with Area Offices in Kansas City and Oklahoma City.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.