Company Fired Employee for Perceived Disability, Federal Agency Charges
RALEIGH, N.C. - SoftPro, LLC, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., that provides real estate closing and title insurance software solutions, violated federal law when it discharged an employee after learning he had been receiving treatment for addiction to opioids, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, Matthew Elliott worked for SoftPro in an IT position. Elliott, a former opiate addict, had been undergoing physician-supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for the addiction since 2009. In February 2017, Elliott voluntarily admitted himself to an in-patient treatment facility to eliminate the need for MAT. Elliott successfully completed the in-patient treatment. According to the complaint, upon his return to work on February 22, he was questioned by SoftPro about the purpose of his leave, and disclosed to the company his previous drug addiction and participation in a MAT program. Elliott also informed the company that during his leave he participated in a treatment program to eliminate his need for ongoing medication. On February 27, 2017, SoftPro fired Elliott.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities, including perceived disabilities and records of disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. SoftPro, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-00463) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"An employer cannot fire an employee based solely on fears or other assumptions about the ability to perform the duties of their job, simply because the employee has or had a disability," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney of the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC will continue to litigate cases where people with disabilities are not provided work in jobs they qualify for and can perform."
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.