Florida Staffing Firm Settles Disability Discrimination Case
On August 28th, 2017, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) announced that KB Staffing, a staffing agency based in Tampa Bay, had reached a settlement in a major disability discrimination case. As part of the settlement agreement reached with the EEOC, KB Staffing agreed to create a $22,500 class action fund to compensate affected parties and they agreed to put considerable resources into recruiting individuals with disabilities in the future.
The EEOC had brought the disability discrimination lawsuit against the staffing agency because the company was allegedly making illegal pre-job offer health inquiries into the sensitive medical information of job applicants. Here, our top-rated West Palm Beach employment law attorneys explain this case so that your company understands its legal obligations when recruiting new employees.
The Company’s Employment Application Asked For Protected Health Information
According to the original lawsuit filed by the EEOC, KB Staffing was using an employment application that explicitly asked all prospective workers to provide sensitive health and disability-related information. The medical questionnaire included on the general application form was extensive. In bringing its complaint, the EEOC referenced an applicant who declined to complete this portion of the KB Staffing application. When this individual left the medical questions blank, a representative of the staffing agency suggested that she needed to complete the entire application. When she refused, the representative wrote on her application “refused to answer”, a comment with negative connotations. This applicant was not hired by any employer associated with the staffing agency, and, after two weeks, this individual stopped receiving correspondence from the KB Staffing.
Employers Should Not Make Pre-Offer Inquiries Into an Applicant’s Medical History
All Florida employers must avoid making general inquiries into a potential employee’s sensitive personal health information. Of course, if certain physical capabilities are legitimate job requirements, then there may be narrow exceptions. Though, inquiries must always be directly into an applicant’s ability to fulfill the job duties of a specific position, not general medical information.
Under federal anti-discrimination law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), general health and medical inquiries are not legally permitted.
If your company violates these regulations, a Florida court has the power to award compensation to any job applicants who were asked to make a confidential disclosure. Further, Florida courts can also take additional remedial action against your business. This could include fines and it could include requiring your business to take action to rectify past discrimination. Please be sure that your employment applications are lawful. If you have questions about the specific application that your company is using, please do not hesitate to consult with an employment law attorney for an immediate review.
Contact Our Office Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment law attorneys have considerable experience handling all aspects of disability discrimination claims. To set up a free review of your case, please call us today at 561-291-8298 to reach our West Palm Beach office or 305-985-5281 to reach our recently opened Miami office.