Clearwater Company Ordered to Pay $150,000 and Observe Non-Discrimination Provisions For Withdrawing Job Offer Because of Applicant's Old Back Injury
TAMPA, Fla. - In an order issued yesterday, a federal judge entered a final judgment against American Tool & Mold, LLC (ATM), in a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The judge awarded $150,000 in damages and provided for extensive injunctive relief to remedy the discrimination.
The judgment follows U.S. Federal District Judge Mary S. Scriven's April 17 order ruling in favor of the EEOC because the Clearwater, Fla.-based company violated federal disability discrimination law by withdrawing a job offer because of the applicant's old back injury. ATM designs and manufactures injection molds for plastics. Following the ruling, the parties stipulated to the terms of the final judgment.
According to the EEOC's suit, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. American Tool & Mold., LLC, Case No. 8:12-cv-02772-MSS-EAJ (M.D.Fla.) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, ATM made a provisional job offer to Michael Matanic as a process engineer, pending a health release. The company conducted a post-offer medical examination which revealed that Matanic had a successful back surgery six years prior for which he could not provide a medical release indicating he had no restrictions. After ATM's post-offer medical examination provider, Lakeside Occupational Medical Clinic, learned this, it refused to perform a back screen and complete Matanic's physical examination. ATM, falsely regarding Matanic as disabled, withdrew the job offer and terminated him. In the meantime, Matanic actually performed the job at ATM for two months while he attempted to obtain the requested medical release. At the time of his termination, Matanic was in good health and had a recent medical examination showing that he had no physical limitations on his ability to perform his job.
The final judgment, besides the $150,000 monetary judgment, requires ATM to provide notice to job applicants that it is an equal opportunity employer; create and implement a disability discrimination policy; provide ATM's management with live training on disability discrimination each year for four years; and post notice of the lawsuit in its facilities. The judgment further requires ATM to conduct a functional job analysis and create written job descriptions for each position subject to a post-offer medical examination. ATM must also ensure that any third-party medical contractors it uses for post-offer medical examinations conducts them in a manner consistent with the ADA. Finally, ATM must report to the EEOC twice a year concerning individuals not hired or terminated as a result of employment medical screenings and people who make complaints of disability discrimination.
"Employment decisions based on myths, fears or stereotypes about an individual's medical history violate federal law," said Kimberly Cruz, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "Decisions about whether a prospective employee can perform the essential functions of the job must be made based on an individualized assessment of the person's current abilities."
Tampa District Director Georgia Marchbanks added, "This decision is a reminder that employers cannot blindly allow their agents, including occupational medical clinics, to fall out of step with legal obligations under the ADA, and, when they do, they will be held responsible."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.