Federal Agency Says Inflexible 12-Week Medical Leave Policy Violates ADA
CHICAGO – United Road Towing, one of the nation’s largest towing companies, violated federal anti-discrimination law by enforcing an inflexible medical leave policy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a new lawsuit.
According to the EEOC’s suit, United Road Towing failed to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities who were on authorized medical leave, and instead terminated them after they used the full 12 weeks of leave allowed under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The EEOC also asserts that United Road Towing refused to re-hire employees with disabilities when those employees reapplied after being terminated under the company’s medical leave policy. The EEOC asserts that both of these alleged practices violate the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
“During our investigation, we uncovered a troubling company policy,” EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, who supervised the administrative investigation which the agency conducted before filing suit, said. “This employer flouted the law against disability discrimination by shutting these people out of future employment after taking just 12 weeks of leave.”
EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “The issue in this lawsuit will be whether United Road Towing discriminated against employees with disabilities in administering an inflexible medical leave policy. The ADA mandates that employers engage in an interactive process with disabled employees to provide reasonable accommodations, and this mandate remained after the passage of the FMLA. Companies must find a way to administer their medical leave policies without discriminating against employees with disabilities, as we allege United Road Towing failed to do.”
The lawsuit, filed September 30, 2010 and captioned EEOC v. United Road Towing Inc., N.D. Ill. No. 10-cv-06259, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after the agency first attempted to resolve the matter with the employer through its voluntary conciliation process. Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason and Trial Attorneys Ann Henry and Brandi Davis of the EEOC Chicago District Office will lead the agency’s litigation team.
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 enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.