Company Withdrew Job Offer Because of Wife's Cancer, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA - Waste Connections, Inc. of Houston violated federal law when it withdrew a job offer to an airplane pilot after it learned that his wife had cancer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed recently.
According to the lawsuit, Waste Connections offered a senior pilot position to John Frame, of Savannah, Ga. After successfully completing the application and interview process, Waste Connections made a job offer to Frame. In accepting the offer, Frame mentioned that the job would be a great help to his family because the company is located near a renowned cancer treatment facility in Houston. Upon learning of Frame's wife's diagnosis, the company representative quickly terminated the conversation, and later that day, withdrew the job offer.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on a disability, including the fact that an individual is related to or associated with someone with a disability. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 4:14-cv-02775) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Frame. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief to stop and prevent any future discrimination.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act was also designed to stop companies from judging employees on the basis of a relative's disability," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The fact that a person's family member has cancer is not a legitimate reason to deny the person employment."
According to Robert Dawkins, EEOC regional attorney, "Waste Connections knew Mr. Frame was well qualified for the job, but merely assumed that his wife's illness would prevent him from performing the job in a safe, effective manner. This type of speculation which results in an adverse employment decision is illegal under federal law."
Waste Connections is a national solid-waste disposal company with operations in 30 states and is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.