Federal Agency Says Tennessee Newspaper Fired Manager Because of Back Injuries, Refusing Reasonable Accommodation
MEMPHIS – The Jackson Sun, a Gannett daily newspaper in Jackson, Tenn., and its affiliated companies violated federal law by terminating a disabled manager because of his back injury and neurological impairments, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on August 15, 2011.
The EEOC’s suit against Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc., doing business as Jackson Sun Media Works, and Gannett Co., Inc. alleges that The Jackson Sun terminated David Dubois when he returned to work after a medical leave of absence and sought a reasonable accommodation. Dubois worked for The Jackson Sun as a print manager and sold and supervised commercial print jobs. In February 2008, Dubois went on medical leave for back surgery due to a herniated disc. During the surgery he sustained permanent spinal cord damage that limited some lower body functions. According to the EEOC’s suit, The Jackson Sun terminated Dubois one week after he returned to work and expressed a need for reasonable accommodation. The company told him that it had eliminated his job.
Discharging an individual because of a disability violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-01252 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Eastern Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit asks the court, among other things, to grant a permanent injunction enjoining The Jackson Sun from further discharging employees based on their disabilities. It also seeks lost wages, other out-of-pocket expenses, and compensatory and punitive damages for Dubois.
“The ADA prohibits employers from terminating people with disabilities based on assumptions about how these employees will perform their job duties or because they need a reasonable accommodation,” said Katharine W. Kores, the EEOC’s director for the Memphis District Office. “The EEOC is absolutely committed to its responsibility in enforcing the ADA.”
The Jackson Sun also sells the use of its printing press for commercial printing jobs. The Sun’s commercial printing operation uses the name “Sun Printing.” Gannett Co. Inc. purchased The Jackson Sun in 1985. An international media and marketing company, McLean, Va.-based Gannett Co. Inc. owns newspapers, magazines, internet companies and television stations throughout the United States and England.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.