Company Fired Worker With a Back Impairment Who Asked for Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Murphy Oil USA, Inc., which operates Murphy USA retail gasoline stores typically located in Walmart parking lots in over 20 states, will pay a former store manager $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Murphy Oil required a 10-year employee with a serious back impairment to perform duties that violated work restrictions imposed by his treating physician. The EEOC's suit also claims that the company fired the employee in retaliation for complaining to management about the failure to accommodate his medical restrictions.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation unless it would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. Retaliation against an employee for raising or reporting discrimination to supervisors also violates the ADA. The ADA also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else's exercise of rights granted by the ADA.
The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 2:16-CV-00048-AM-CW, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Del Rio Division, after the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process.
As part of the two-year consent decree resolving the suit, Murphy Oil USA will pay $100,000 to its former employee. Murphy Oil USA also agreed to implement written policies to achieve compliance with the ADA; provide training regarding the ADA; and post a notice referencing the consent decree.
"This employee had been relied upon by the company to manage and train others for years," said David Rivela, senior trial attorney in the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "The failure to make adjustments that would take into account the manager's physical impairment resulted in the company's loss of a solid employee. Employers should engage in an effective interactive process and not respond with a termination when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation."
EEOC Investigator Minerva Melendreras added, "We are pleased that Murphy Oil and the EEOC were able resolve this case by entering into this consent decree, providing monetary relief to the former employee, agreeing to ADA training and implementing policies that will help protect employees from discrimination."
The San Antonio Field Office is part of the EEOC's Dallas District Office which is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
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.