Company Discharged Employee With Asthma After Refusing Her a Reasonable Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
HOUSTON - Baker Concrete Construction, a construction company located in Houston, will pay $58,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the federal agency announced.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Baker Concrete terminated payroll manager Maria Castillo in 2013 because of her disability, asthma, when the company refused to provide her with a reasonable accommodation of working at home for a period after she had a bad reaction to chemical dust in the workplace. After Castillo, a nine-year employee of the company, was denied a reasonable accommodation, she was fired by two human resource officials, who told her that she was disabled, could no longer perform her job, and would just become ill again if they gave her permission to work at home for a period because the building was old and she would continue to have breathing problems upon her return.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless to do so would impose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Baker Concrete Construction, Inc., (C.A. 4:14-cv-02746 (S.D. Tex. 2014), in September 2014, after first attempting to resolve the matter through its conciliation process.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas entered a consent decree on May 11, 2015 resolving the case. The consent decree provides that Baker will pay Castillo $58,000 and requires that the company institute EEOC-monitored training at its facility on employment discrimination law, including the ADA. The decree also requires the company to implement an ADA policy which includes permitting telework as a reasonable accommodation in appropriate circumstances.
"All Ms Castillo wanted was to continue to do her job at home for a while because of her asthma flare-up due to dust in the office," said EEOC's Houston District Office Regional Attorney Jim Sacher. "As Congress had wanted, this resolution will enable employees and the company to fairly consider a broader range of options to accommodate disabled workers."
The Houston District Office of the EEOC oversees Eastern Texas and Louisiana.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.