Florida Organization Pays $115,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Claim
On November 6th, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a Florida-based non-profit organization agreed to pay $115,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The legal claim was filed on behalf of an employee who was improperly told that she could not be re-hired by the company because of a previous injury she suffered while working for the same employer. Here, our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys provide a more detailed overview of the settlement and discuss disability discrimination more broadly.
Allegations: Misuse of Workers’ Comp Medical Records
The employee in this case worked at Aspire Health Partners—a Tampa, FL-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization—for nearly two decades. During her employment, she suffered a workplace injury and was forced to go on leave and apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Approximately three years after leaving the organization, her doctors cleared her to return to her previous position. After receiving the good medical news, she applied for a job at Aspire Health Partners.
An interview was scheduled. However, the interview was suddenly cancelled just a few hours before it was supposed to begin. The woman was told that her previous injury and her medical records indicated that she was not able to perform the job duties. As a consequence, she was denied an opportunity to apply for the position.
Disability Discrimination Settlement: EEOC Commends Employer for Swift Action
The EEOC filed a disability discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the former employee. Eventually, the organization settled the claim for $115,000, entered into a consent decree, and committed to revising its hiring practices to ensure fair opportunities for disabled workers in the future. Notably, the EEOC commended Aspire Health Partners for taking quick and comprehensive action to acknowledge its errors and resolve the complaint.
Employers Should Not Make Presumptions About an Applicant’s Physical Abilities
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a physical impairment that limits or otherwise restricts a person’s day-to-day activities may be deemed a disability. All employers covered by the ADA have a responsibility to avoid discriminating against employees on the basis of their disability status. Employers should avoid making broad presumptions about how a physical disability adversely affects an employee capabilities. In some cases, a reasonable accommodation may be warranted.
The Bottom Line: Every job applicant and employee should be assessed on their individual merits. Employers should not use medical records to make broad assumptions about what an individual can or cannot do. Denying an applicant an opportunity without a fair evaluation could result in a company or organization facing a disability discrimination lawsuit.
Call Our Florida Disability Discrimination Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment lawyers have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to handle complex disability discrimination claims. Representing employers and employees, we provide well-rounded representation to our clients. Call us today for a strictly confidential case evaluation. Our law firm handles disability discrimination claims in West Palm Beach, Miami, and all around Southeastern Florida.