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Press Release 06-10-2013

Fidelity Engineering Corporation Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

Sheet  Metal Mechanic to Receive $88,500

BALTIMORE - Fidelity Engineering Corporation, a leading  provider of mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning services in  the Mid-Atlantic area, will pay $88,500 and provide significant equitable  relief to settle a federal disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency  announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit, Jose Arteaga Rivas was a sheet  metal mechanic at Fidelity's Sparks, Md., headquarters location.  After he was medically released to return to  work with no restrictions after heart valve replacement surgery, Fidelity wrongfully  assumed that it was "too risky" for him to return to his job and failed to  assign him to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation of his disability,  the EEOC alleged.  According to the lawsuit, EEOC said that Arteaga could have returned to work, as his medical  release indicated, without posing any safety threat to himself or others, but  Fidelity instead fired him.

The EEOC also charged that Fidelity later refused to rehire  Arteaga for a vacant sheet metal position at its Beltsville, Md., location because  of his disability and in retaliation for filing the EEOC charge.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with  Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed  suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division,  Civil Action (No. 1-13-cv-00098-RDB) after first attempting to reach a voluntary  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"We appreciate Fidelity Engineering Corporation's efforts to  resolve this lawsuit quickly, fairly and without incurring unnecessary litigation  expenses," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.  "This settlement, including the training  provisions, is intended to protect all employees and applicants with  disabilities from discrimination."

In addition to the monetary relief to Arteaga, the  three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Fidelity Engineering  Corporation from engaging in adverse employment actions or retaliation in  violation of the ADA and requires the corporation to provide reasonable accommodations  for qualified people with disabilities.  The  company will:

  • implement a policy prohibiting discrimination  based on disability or retaliation and setting forth the company's obligation  to provide a reasonable accommodation, including reassignment to a vacant  position;
  • distribute the revised policy to all employees,  include it in its employee handbook and post it on the company intranet;
  • adopt a procedure to assess whether a disabled  employee presents a direct threat to the workplace;
  • provide training to all human resources and  management personnel on the ADA;
  • post a notice regarding the resolution of the  lawsuit; and
  • report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with  the consent decree.

Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's  Philadelphia District Office, added,"In cases like this one, employers need to ensure that they  have qualified personnel and concrete policies in place to address whether the  individual with a disability is truly a threat to himself or others."

The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office oversees  Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and  Ohio.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at