Petro-Chemical Contractor Fired Brothers Because of Their Blood Disorder, Federal Agency Charged
HOUSTON - A Beaumont manufacturing company has agreed to pay $135,000 and to provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Signature Industrial Services, LLC, violated federal law by firing three laborers - all of whom were brothers - because of a blood disorder that runs in their family.
The EEOC said Drew West and Anthony West had been working at the Exxon/Mobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas, when Signature Industrial Services (SIS) took over a contract to perform mechanical services at the plant. A third West brother, Raymond, began working there around January 2013. All of them have Hemophilia A, a blood disorder that does not impede their performing their jobs, but which requires expensive medicine for treatment should they sustain an on-the-job scrape or injury that causes bleeding.
EEOC's suit said SIS's top management instructed lower-level managers to fire the Wests once they learned how SIS's insurance costs could spike by having them on the payroll. Because the West brothers had an excellent work history, the project manager initially refused to fire them, but after he stopped working at the plant, the West brothers' direct supervisor was ordered to fire them. On July 3, 2013, all three West brothers were advised they were being laid off.
The EEOC said although SIS claimed the layoffs were due to a "reduction in force," no workers other than the West brothers were laid off on July 3, and they were fired because of their disability.
That alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (EEOC v. Signature Industrial Services, LLC Civil Action No. 1:18cv70) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the terms of a two-year consent decree settling the case, Signature will pay $135,000 in monetary relief and has agreed to other relief in resolving this matter.
Houston District Office Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita said, "We are pleased to have reached what we believe to be a fair resolution, and are confident Signature is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to workers, regardless of their disabilities or genetic conditions."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.