Hey Compliance Warriors!
Have you ever received a request for an accommodation and instead of granting the minor request fired the person? I sure hope not. But, someone did and that is why the EEOC is telling us about this $79,000 box of gloves.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Agropur refused to accommodate the employee’s severe dyshidrotic eczema, a skin condition. While working for Agropur, the employee learned she was allergic to rubber and plastics. She requested a reasonable accommodation, including the ability to wear a different type of glove while working.
Instead of accommodating the employee, Agropur forced her to leave work when she had flare-ups, the EEOC said. When she left work, she was penalized by receiving attendance points. Ultimately, the EEOC said, Agropur fired her after she had accumulated attendance points that accrued as a direct result of the company’s failure to provide her with a reasonable accommodation.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (EEOC v. Agropur, Inc., Case No. 1:21-CV-00765).
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit provides for injunctive relief, training on the ADA, and compliance-related reporting to the EEOC.
“Adhering to an inflexible no-fault attendance policy may violate the ADA,” explained EEOC trial attorney Nedra Campbell. “Employers should determine whether an employee who needs leave because of a medical condition is entitled to an accommodation under the ADA. Agropur should be commended both for agreeing to a consent decree early in this litigation and committing to ensure its managerial and human resource employees are trained on the ADA.”
Agropur, Inc. is a dairy processor that produces cheese, whey products and dairy ingredients with its approximately 2,800 employees located throughout the United States. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Agropur Cooperative, a Canadian-based dairy processor.
Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP
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