EEOC Files a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against a Florida Manufacturer
On March 20th, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the agency is filing a disability discrimination lawsuit against Interconnect Cable Technology Corporation (ICTC)—a manufacturer based in Hernando County, Florida.
The federal agency alleges that the company improperly demoted and discharged a worker after she was hospitalIzed for a mental health issue. Below, our Miami employment law lawyers discuss the EEOC’s complaint and employer duties under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
A Hospitalization for and Diagnosis of Severe Depression
After attempting (and failing) to reach a settlement, the EEOC brought a disability discrimination complaint against ICTC in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. According to the complaint filed by the agency, the employee in this case held a position at the electronics manufacturer for more than two decades. During her time at the firm, she was promoted multiple times and held a number of different roles.
In 2019, she was hospitalIzed after experiencing a serious mental health issue. During this same period, medical professionals diagnosed her with major depressive disorder. When she recovered and was cleared to return about a week after her release, a top executive at the company almost immediately stripped her of the majority of her responsibilities. She was demoted and her pay was cut. A few months later she was fired. The EEOC alleges disability discrimination and is seeking back pay, other compensatory damages, and injunctive relief.
Employer Obligations Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Under the American With Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits major life activities. It is important to emphasize that mental illnesses and mental health disorders are covered by the ADA. In recent years, many employers in South Florida and throughout the country have run into trouble over their failure to attempt to accommodate employees who are dealing with mental health issues.
Employers cannot take adverse actions against employees solely on the grounds that they have a mental illness. To be clear, companies are not required to hire or retain workers who are simply incapable of performing the essential functions of the job because of a mental health issue. However, the employer has a legal duty to make a good faith attempt to offer reasonable accommodation to this employee. If a company or organization demotes, terminates, or otherwise punishes a worker simply because they sought mental health treatment or were diagnosed with a mental illness—as the EEOC alleges occurred in this case—they may be in violation of the ADA.
Call Our South Florida Workplace Discrimination Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami employment lawyers have deep experience handling complex workplace discrimination claims. We represent both companies and employees. To set up a completely confidential consultation with an experienced Florida employment lawyer, please call us now. We handle workplace discrimination cases throughout the entire region.