Erie Equipment Supplier Made Unlawful Medical Inquiries and Engaged in Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges
PITTSBURGH - The Erie Strayer Company, an Erie-Pa.-based construction equipment supplier, violated federal disability discrimination law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC said that the Erie Strayer Company unlawfully subjected Thomas Young and a class of other, similarly situated employees to a policy and practice of unlawful medical inquiries and adverse employment actions resulting from such inquiries. These actions included coercion, intimidation, threats, and interference with the exercise and enjoyment of their protected rights. The EEOC charged that the company also retaliated against employees for their refusal to comply with the company's policy and practice of unlawful medical inquiries.
The Erie Strayer Company's alleged conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their actual or perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Erie Strayer Company, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00199) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"Requiring employees to reveal the specific nature of their medical illness in order to have necessary sick leave count as an excused absence is an unlawful disability-related inquiry under the ADA and not justified by business necessity," said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. "Employees should not have to worry that this very sensitive, private and potentially harmful information will be used by the employer against them to unfairly exclude them from jobs that they could otherwise perform."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.