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Press Release 09-19-2019

Citgo Petroleum to Pay $162,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

 Agency Sued Lemont, Ill., Refinery for Failure to Hire Applicant With Monocular Vision

CHICAGO -- CITGO Petroleum Corporation's Lemont, Ill., refinery, has agreed to pay an applicant $162,500 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.

According to the EEOC, CITGO violated federal law when it revoked an offer of employment to an applicant with monocular vision. Despite the applicant's experience working as a contract scaffolder in the refinery for many years, CITGO withdrew its offer of employment after discovering during a post-offer exam that he had permanent vision loss in one eye. CITGO claimed the applicant would be a safety risk to himself or others. The EEOC alleged that CITGO, which never asked him if or how his condition limited his ability to work and never gave him a chance to demonstrate that he could work in the environment, violated the ADA by denying employment because of his actual or perceived disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Citgo Petroleum Corporation, 18-CV-5490, in the Eastern Division of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process. EEOC Trial Attorneys Rich Mrizek and Kelly Bunch and Supervisory Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton litigated the case against CITGO.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Mary M. Rowland on Sept. 18, prohibits disability discrimination in hiring and requires that CITGO provide reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees. The decree requires that CITGO provide ADA training, keep records of accommodation requests, terminations, and revoked offers, and provide semi-annual reports to the EEOC. The decree also mandates that CITGO gather information or seek input from individuals who seek accommodation or are adversely affected by an impairment-based job decision. CITGO also must provide people with infor­mation about their right to participate in the interactive process. The decree further instructs that in the future, any decisions by CITGO regarding an individual's impairment must be based on actual evidence of limitation rather than perception of limitation.

"This settlement should remind employers that the ADA requires that decisions about whether a person with a potential disability is qualified for a position should be based on an individualized assessment of the applicant rather than preconceived notions about a condition," said Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District Office.

Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, said, "We are pleased with today's settle­ment, which will both compensate the victim and provide injunctive relief to erode the stereotyping that often surrounds disability and continues to be one of the greatest barriers to employment that people with disabilities or perceived disabilities face."

CITGO is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. Headquartered in Houston's Energy Corridor, it is majority-owned by PDVSA, a state-owned company of the Venezuelan government.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, 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 advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing the federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.