The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a settlement of claims that a labor agency failed to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker with breast cancer.
Labor Agency Settles Federal Charges It Denied Employee with Breast Cancer Reasonable Accommodations and Forced Her to Resign
CLEVELAND – The United Labor Agency (ULA), a Cleveland-based non-profit that focuses on workforce development, will pay $32,371 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, ULA discriminated against a long-time employee based on her disability, breast cancer, when it denied her reasonable accommodation request for temporary remote work and subjected her to intolerable work conditions that resulted in her discharge. ULA required its employees to return to in-person work after a long period of COVID-related telework and denied the employee’s request to remain on telework for several months while she was undergoing radiation treatments and was immunosuppressed. The employee returned to the office per ULA’s demands, but eventually felt forced to resign due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
The alleged conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities if doing so would not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:23-cv-00283) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to providing the former employee monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides for systemic relief intended to prevent further disability discrimination, periodic reporting to the EEOC, and training for all management personnel in responding to reasonable accommodation requests.
“The ADA requires employers provide reasonable accommodations absent undue hardship,” said Debra Lawrence, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “It is essential employers engage in the interactive process with employees who are receiving ongoing treatments for serious medical conditions.”
“Serious and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer can require employees to request different accommodations from employers during the course of treatment,” said EEOC Cleveland Field Office Director Dilip Gokhale. “It is crucial both sides remain engaged in the interactive process throughout treatment.”
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.
The EEOC’s Cleveland Field Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.