Engineer Forced to Resign Despite Being Released to Return From Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS – L-3 Communications, a large defense contractor with facilities in Texas, will pay $75,000 and furnish other relief 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, the engineer was hired by L-3 Communications in 2008 and was a successful employee for six years. He suffered two depressive episodes at work in late 2014 and went on medical leave. He was released to return to work by his physician after receiving treatment, but L-3 required the employee to submit to a fitness-for-duty exam before deciding whether he could return to his position. The psychologist who conducted the fitness-for-duty exam concluded that the employee could return to work, but instead L-3 ended his employment by giving him the option to resign or be fired.
The EEOC charged in its suit that L-3 violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by forcing the engineer, a qualified individual with a disability, to resign in lieu of termination. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, LP d/b/a L-3 Communications Mission Integration, Civil Action No.3:17-cv-00538-N) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, signed on June 10, 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge David Godbey, calls for L3 to provide monetary relief to the former engineer, as well as to conduct training on the ADA for employees in the department where he was working at the time of his forced resignation.
“This case demonstrates the danger of allowing myths, fears, and stereotypes to pervade decisions about employees with disabilities,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Meaghan Kuelbs. “The EEOC believes that the non-monetary relief, including the training specific to this former employee’s department, will help prevent this from happening again at L-3.”
Robert Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “L3’s decision ran afoul of federal law when the company chose to ignore the medical assessments of both the employee’s doctor and a contracted fitness-for-duty examiner that he could return to work. The EEOC is ready to stand up to defend employees against disability discrimination.”
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.