Employee With Asperger’s Syndrome Denied a Reasonable Accommodation and Fired While on Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charged
Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC, a for-profit manufacturer of cooking products, will pay $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced this week.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Masterbuilt denied Joshua Moore’s request for an accommodation in the form of leave for a short period to undergo treatment and counseling for stress caused by his Asperger’s syndrome. On several occasions in June and July 2017, Moore complained to the vice president of human resources about his supervisor’s conduct, including, but not limited to, her repeated comments that Moore was “special.” Masterbuilt fired Moore while he was on leave, despite his repeated requests to return to work and being cleared by medical professionals to return to work.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s disability. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Masterbuilt Manufacturing, LLC, Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-00052-CDL) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, Masterbuilt agreed to provide employment discrimination training to its employees and to post anti-discrimination notices at its facility. In addition, the decree subjects Masterbuilt to reporting and monitoring requirements.
“When an employer knows its employee has a disability and needs to be absent from work because of it, the employer should seek to accommodate him, not punish him,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC is pleased that Masterbuilt agreed to resolve this case and to further train its employees on its obligations under the ADA. The discrimination victim in this case has been compensated and the employer will be better equipped to respond the next time an applicant or employee seeks leave as an accommodation for a disability.”
Darrell Graham, acting district director of the Atlanta office, added, “The EEOC is committed to ending disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. An employee should not be forced to risk termination for seeking a perfectly reasonable accommodation under federal law.”
The EEOC’s Atlanta District Office oversees Georgia and parts of South Carolina.
This is a press release from the EEOC.