Illinois Manufacturer Unlawfully Fired Employee It Regarded as Disabled, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO – IDEC Corporation, a worldwide industrial device manufacturer, will pay $275,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, IDEC engaged in unlawful discrimination at its East Dundee, Ill., location when it terminated an employee because it perceived the employee to have disabling impairments, including sleep apnea and a heart condition.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against employees with actual or perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. IDEC Corp., Civil Action No. 18-cv-4168) in June 2018, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the EEOC’s pre-lawsuit conciliation process.
Under the two-and-a-half-year consent decree settling the suit, agreed to by the parties and entered by the court, IDEC will pay $275,000 to the former employee’s estate and attorney. The decree further mandates that IDEC train its East Dundee employees on the ADA’s protections and report to the EEOC all future complaints of disability discrimination as well as requests by employees for workplace accommodation of disabilities that IDEC denies.
“Firing people because of perceived disabilities is just as serious a violation of the ADA as firing people for their actual impairments,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “Unfortunately, many employers continue to run afoul of the ADA’s broad employee protections. As long as they do, the EEOC will continue to litigate these cases.”
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, added, “This terminated employee was wholly capable of performing his job, but IDEC fired him based on stereotypes about impairments it thought he had. The ADA protects employees perceived as having disabilities from discrimination, and the EEOC will keep enforcing it.”
The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing the 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.