Ball Bearings Manufacturer Denied Medical Leave to Employee After Heart Surgery, Then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charged

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Kaydon Corporation, a Muskegon, Mich.-based company that manufactures ball bearings for use in medical systems, industrial machinery, semiconductors and aerospace/defense markets, will pay $38,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability dis­crimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that an employee at the company’s Sumter, S.C., plant who suffered a heart attack was denied a reasonable accom­moda­tion and then unlawfully fired because of his disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, on May 3, 2017, CNC machine operator Larry E. Newsome suffered a heart attack. Newsome was hospitalized and underwent surgery for the placement of two stents in his heart. Newsome’s doctor placed him on five weeks of medical leave to recuperate from the heart attack and surgery. It was anticipated that Newsome could return to work without restrictions on June 21, 2017. On May 11, 2017, Newsome informed the company of his need for medical leave and anticipated return-to-work date. Kaydon denied Newsome’s request for medical leave and fired him, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability un­less doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (EEOC v. Kaydon Corporation, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-02641-JMC-KDW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $38,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Kaydon Corporation create a protocol for effectively identifying and considering requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA; adopt, implement, and distribute a formal, written ADA policy; provide annual ADA training to all managers, supervisors, and employees at its Sumter facility; post an anti-discrimination notice there; and periodically report compliance to the EEOC for the decree’s duration.

“An employee who has suffered a heart attack has enough to deal with without having to face unlawful discrimination and unemployment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Larry Newsome.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.