Press Release 07-01-2020

Busse Combat Knife Company Pays $20,900 to Settle EEOC Disability Discharge Suit

Knife Manufacturer Discharged Employee After He Disclosed a Disability, Federal Agency Charged

DETROIT – A Wauseon, Ohio knife manufacturer will pay $20,900 in back pay and non-economic damages and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged that Busse Combat Knife Company violated federal law by discharging a worker after he revealed a disability.  

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee left work early when he experienced a problem related to his disability. After he notified his supervisor of the problem, the owner of the company asked him why he had not disclosed his disability at hire and ordered him to provide a medical note clearing him to work. The employee submitted the note, but the employer then fired him because of his disability, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers not fire employees because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo (Case No. 3:18-cv-00144) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief including review of, and possible revisions to, Busse’s discrimination policies and training for the owner and supervisor on the requirements of the ADA.    

“The ADA is clear: an employer cannot fire an employee because he reveals a disability,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “The training and review of the policies under the consent decree provide meaningful protections for the employees of Busse Combat Knife. With this resolution, the defendant has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of employees with disabilities in the workplace.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio.