Press Release 11-03-2020

EEOC Sues Trimark Foodcraft for Disability Discrimination

Commercial Kitchen Supplier Denied Reasonable Accommodation to Employee With Disability and Then Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – Strategic Equipment, LLC, doing business as TriMark Foodcraft, LLC, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in the distribution of commercial kitchen equip­ment and supplies, violated federal law when it denied a reasonable accommodation to an accounts payable clerk and then fired her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, the employee was placed at TriMark Foodcraft’s Winston-Salem facility by a temporary staffing agency. Following hospitalization for breathing-related issues about a month later, the employee informed TriMark Foodcraft that she would be returning to work with a personal oxygen device. Instead of allowing the employee to use the device, the company terminated her because of her disability, the EEOC said. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Winston Salem Division (EEOC v. Strategic Equipment, LLC d/b/a TriMark Foodcraft, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-01000) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

“The obligation to accommodate an employee with a disability so that she can retain her job is a fundamental aspect of the ADA,” said Kara Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers must provide accommodations that allow individuals to return to productive work when the company can do so without undue hardship.”

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.