Sheet Metal Companies Fired Employee After He Lost One Eye Because of Stigmas Associated With Disability, Federal Agency Charges
MIAMI - Universal Diversified Enterprises, Inc. and Universal Diversified Solutions LLC, Miami-based sheet metal fabrication and installation companies, violated federal law when they fired an employee and refused to let him to return to work after he recovered from losing an eye in an out-of-work injury, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee had been employed as a sheet metal installer when he lost his left eye in injury sustained out of the workplace. After recovering from the injury and being cleared to return to work by his medical provider, his employer refused to schedule his return to work. The man's supervisor fired him, saying that UD Enterprises' owner did not want him to return because it would be a liability to the company, and the owner did not want to deal with that "headache."
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit against UD Enterprises and UD Solutions, its successor company, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division (Case No. 1:18-cv-23573) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the terminated employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.
"This man was medically cleared to return to work and the company had no right to assume he was incapable," said Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "Employers cannot rely on their uninformed stereotypes and fears about actual or perceived disabilities to make employment decisions."
EEOC Miami District Office regional attorney Robert E. Weisberg added, "The ADA makes it unlawful to terminate an employee who suffered some type of injury but remains a perfectly capable worker. The EEOC is here to protect workers' rights under federal law."
The EEOC's Miami District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and conducting agency litigation in Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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.