Miami Company Settles Disability Discrimination Employment Law Claim for $30,000
On April 25th, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a settlement in a disability discrimination claim that it filed against Universal Diversified Enterprises, a South Florida-based contractor. Regulators allege that this company improperly terminated an employee due to his visual disability. Here, our Miami employment law attorneys provide an overview of disability discrimination allegations and we explain one of the key requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
An Injured Worker Was Cleared to Return, He Was Prevented
Universal Diversified Enterprises is a sheet metal company located in Miami, Florida. The employee in this case was a metal worker and installer at the firm. In an accident wholly unrelated to his job, he lost an eye. The injury rendered him visually impaired, but not blind. When he was medically cleared to return to work by his physician, he attempted to do so. However, the company denied him reinstatement. In addition, the company declined to conduct an individualized assessment of his condition and his ability to perform the job. Soon after this, the former employee filed a disability discrimination claim under the (ADA). In pre-litigation negotiations, the company agreed to settle the lawsuit. In doing so, it consented to:
- Providing the worker with $30,000 in financial relief;
- Developing and adopting a comprehensive ADA compliance policy; and
- Scheduling annual supervisor and employment ADA training, which will be supervised by the EEOC.
Miami Regional Office: Enforcement Action to Protect Workers With Physical Impairments
According to EEOC Miami District Director Michael Farrell, the regional office is currently making it a priority to take enforcement action that protects workers who have visual impairments, hearing impairments, and other physical impairments. This case provides an important example of how disability discrimination occurs in the workplace and what employers need to do to avoid facing a lawsuit or other legal sanctions.
Under the ADA, covered employers cannot presume that a worker is incapable of performing a job simply because of a physical impairment, including a visual impairment. As an example, whether or not this worker’s eye injury would impact his ability to return to his previous position as a sheet metal installer is an issue that can only be determined through an individualized occupational assessment of that employee. If a comprehensive and fair assessment does indeed establish that the worker cannot perform the job duties in a safe and effective manner then the company would certainly not be forced to keep him in that position — but employers should not make assumptions based on the presence of a physical impairment.
Contact Our Florida Employment Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami, FL employment lawyers have the knowledge and experience required to represent by employers and employees in a wide array of legal matters. If you have questions or concerns about disability discrimination, please contact us today for a confidential initial consultation. From our law offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, we handle employment law matters all over South Florida.