Company Refused to Return Employee to Work After Stroke Because It Regarded Him as Disabled and Fired Him for Filing a Charge, Federal Agency Charges
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Custom Fabrication & Engineering, doing business as Midwest Automation Custom Fabrication, Inc., located in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law when it refused to allow a long-time employee to return to work following a medical leave of absence, based on a perceived disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday. The company then fired him because he filed an EEOC charge.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the long-term employee suffered a stroke in October 2016. Following a recuperative period, the company refused to return the employee to work, even though the employee had obtained releases required by the company. Further, when the employee attempted to return to work, the company owner asked him why he had filed a charge with EEOC and told him the job was "not going to work out."
Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, the ADA protects employees from retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division, Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-02143, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.
"Federal law protects employees from unlawful discrimination based on false perceptions, stereotypes and perceived disabilities," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "Furthermore, an employer cannot terminate an employee for choosing to exercise his rights by filing a charge with the EEOC."
In June of 2018 Custom Fabrication & Engineering of Fort Smith, Ark., merged with Midwest Automation of Arkoma, Okla., to form Midwest Automation Custom Fabrication, Inc. The company is a totally integrated fabrication company that designs, engineers and installs structural steel for commercial and industrial companies across North America.
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.