Applied Vacuum Technology Fired Employee After Hospital Stay, Federal Agency Charges
MINNEAPOLIS - Waconia, Minn., manufacturer Applied Vacuum Technology violated federal law when it fired an employee because it regarded him as having a disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's suit, when supervisor Larry Kating returned to work after being hospitalized for a week, Applied Vacuum fired him, although Kating had no work restrictions. Kating had worked as a supervisor in the shipping and receiving department at Applied Vacuum. EEOC alleges that Applied Vacuum contends that it fired Kating for not calling in every day of his hospitalization, even though it knew that Kating was physically incapable of doing so.
After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through statutory conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. (EEOC v. Applied Vacuum Technology, Inc., D. Minn. No. 0:12-cv-02473-SRN-FLN, D. Judge Susan Richard Nelson) The agency seeks lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and punitive damages on behalf of Kating, as well as injunctive relief such as training for company managers and employees, and compliance monitoring by the EEOC.
"Employees who are hospitalized should be able to concentrate on getting healthy without danger of losing their job," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the Chicago District Office of the EEOC. He noted that discrimination based on disability continues to be a difficult problem in the United States. Almost 500 charges alleging disability discrimination were filed in fiscal year 2011 in Minnesota alone.
The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The EEOC's legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office will conduct this litigation under the management of the agency's Chicago District Office.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.