Construction Contractor Did Not Provide a Reasonable Accommodation and Terminated the Employee, Federal Agency Charged
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Montgomery-based Caddell Construction Company, a major national general construction contractor, has agreed to pay $125,000 and be subject to a consent decree to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC brought suit on behalf of Patricia Pittman, a former Caddell employee, who suffered a leg fracture requiring surgery while working at Caddell's Eglin Air Force Base facility. Following the surgery, Caddell refused to provide Pittman with a reasonable accommodation. Pittman had requested the accommodation of a wheelchair ramp to enter the office and to be allowed to use her crutches and a walker. Caddell fired Pittman days after her request for accommodation.
Such alleged conduct violates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disability, unless the employer would suffer an undue hardship as a result. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:11-cv-00472) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief ordered by the court under the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Caddell is obligated to provide training to its employees on its obligations under the ADA and post an employee notice about the lawsuit informing employees of Caddell's duty under the law to maintain a workplace free from unlawful discrimination. The company must allow the EEOC to monitor compliance with the decree. Also, the decree prohibits Caddell from discriminating based on disability against employees or applicants for employment.
"Employers must respect the obligations imposed by the ADA," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. "This litigation demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities receive the full protection of the laws we enforce, and that employers understand how to comply with those laws."
Steven Murray, senior trial attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office, said, "The law provides broad protections for employees and imposes specific requirements on employers. Employers need to be vigilant to prevent workplace discrimination against people with disabilities and retaliation against workers who bring discrimination allegations to the attention of management."
The EEOC's Birmingham District has jurisdiction in Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.