Ball Bearings Manufacturer Denied Medical Leave to Employee After Heart Surgery, Then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charges
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Kaydon Corporation, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Muskegon, Mich., violated federal law when it denied an employee of its Sumter, S.C., plant leave following a heart attack and then discharged him, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. Kaydon's Sumter plant manufactures ball bearings for use in medical systems, industrial machinery, semiconductors and aerospace/defense markets.
According to the EEOC's complaint, on May 3, 2017, Larry E. Newsome, a CNC machine operator, suffered a severe heart attack. Newsome was hospitalized and underwent surgery for the placement of two stents in his heart. Newsome's doctor placed him on five weeks of medical leave to recuperate from the heart attack and surgery. It was anticipated that Newsome could return to work without restrictions on June 21, 2017. The EEOC alleges that on May 11, 2017, Newsome informed the company of his need for medical leave and anticipated return-to-work date. Kaydon denied Newsome's request for medical leave and fired him.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (EEOC v. Kaydon Corporation, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-02641-JMC-KDW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. Prior to being received by the EEOC, Newsome's charge was processed by the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, South Carolina's Fair Employment Practices Agency.
"The obligation to accommodate an employee with a disability so that he or she can remain employed is a fundamental aspect of the ADA," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Employers must be careful to give employees a fair chance to make a full recovery from disability-related conditions and return to productive work when the company can do so without undue hardship."
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.