Ready-Mix Company Fired Driver After Learning He Had Prostate Cancer, Federal Agency Charges
WICHITA FALLS, Texas - OK Concrete, a Wichita Falls-based mixed concrete company, violated federal law by discriminating against an employee based on his disability, prostate cancer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit against the company, Joey Snyder, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2012, was hired by OK Concrete as a mixer driver in late March 2012. The EEOC claims that Snyder successfully completed his training for the job. However, he subsequently notified a member of management that he would need a few days off after his health benefits became active to receive treatment for his cancer. Snyder was fired just hours later. The EEOC charges that the decision to fire Snyder was based on disability discrimination.
Firing a qualified employee because of his disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 7:15-CV-0083-O in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief to ensure the company does not make decisions based on disability in the future.
"Sometimes when employers learn of a cancer diagnosis, it leads to assumptions, even fears, about whether that employee will be able to do the job," said Toby Wosk Costas, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "Before the ADA, these myths and fears led to getting rid of an employee. But Congress said otherwise 25 years ago."
EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard said, "An employee should feel comfortable disclosing his or her disability to a supervisor without fear of being fired as a result. Mr. Snyder was not asking for immediate extended time off, nor did he give any indication that his cancer would interfere with his ability to be a mixer driver. He was only giving the company the courtesy of advance notice of his need for a few days off in the future, and that courtesy was repaid with a pink slip."
In fiscal year 2014, 25,369 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.