Wednesday, December 05, 2012

EEOC Sues Sony and Staffing Company for Firing Worker with Prosthetic Leg

See this EEOC press release, which begins:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a disability discrimination lawsuit today against Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc., alleging that they terminated a woman with a prosthetic leg because of her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
According to John P. Rowe, the EEOC's district director in Chicago who oversaw the EEOC's administrative investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Staffmark and Sony fired Shanks because of her prosthetic leg. Staffmark, a staffing agency, assigned Dorothy Shanks to work on a temporary job for Sony at Ozzy Hessey Logistics' (OHL) facility located in Romeoville, Ill. Sony uses OHL laborers to package and/or inspect Sony products that are being shipped out. Despite the fact that she was working in the OHL facility, Shanks's supervisors were all Sony employees, who were also located at the OHL facility. 
On Shanks's second day of employment on the Sony job, a Staffmark employee told her that she was being removed from her assignment because they did not want anyone bumping into her, and that Staffmark would find her another assignment where she could sit. Staffmark never sent Shanks to work on any other job assignments even though Shanks repeatedly called Staffmark seeking work. 
The EEOC filed suit under the ADA after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with Staffmark and Sony through EEOC's conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc, N.D. Ill. No. 12-cv-9628, was filed on Dec. 4, 2012, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason and Trial Attorney Ann Henry will litigate the case on behalf of the EEOC. 
"The ADA requires that individuals with disabilities be judged on their ability to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation," said Rowe. "Ms. Shanks performed her job with no difficulty, but was fired because of unjustified fears about her having a prosthetic leg. Firing employees because of baseless fears and stereotypes about their disabilities is illegal, and the EEOC will defend the victims of such unlawful conduct."

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