Tyson Foods to Pay $35K to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
March 4, 2012
In a Riverside employment lawyers blog from last year, Vincent Howard discussed the settlement of a gender discrimination lawsuit against Tyson Foods, Inc. where the company agreed to pay $2.25 million to over 1,650 women who applied for employment opportunities, but were denied employment allegedly due to their gender.
Tyson Foods, Inc. has settled another discrimination lawsuit this month for $35,000, after the company was accused of refusing to hire an individual based on his disability.
The disability discrimination lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in May 2010, alleging that Tyson refused to hire applicant Mark White, who applied for an available maintenance job in a Missouri plant, because of his disability, epilepsy--a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the EEOC, during a twelve year period, White completely controlled his disability with medication--during which time he had applied for and been hired for two jobs at Tyson. However, Tyson had reportedly implemented a new medical assessment procedure since the last time White had been hired, and after he failed to pass the new required medical evaluation, Tyson refused to hire him--citing that based on the new epilepsy test, he could not safely perform the job. The EEOC found that the doctor who reportedly performed the epilepsy evaluation did not actually examine White, but rather relied on outdated medical research, which determined that White could not perform the job safely. The EEOC claimed that Tyson had unfairly employed other workers at the same time, who also had epilepsy, but had been grandfathered in to the company.
In a previous Carson employment attorneys blog, Vincent Howard reported that under the ADA, it is against illegal to discriminate against job applicants or employees who suffer from disabilities. The ADA mandates that employers are required by federal law to reasonably accommodate disabled individuals unless doing so would cause difficulty or a significant expense, or hardship on the employer.
Tyson agreed to compensate White $35,000 in back pay and damages, and to implement a new procedure for assessing similar cases. From now on, any applicant who is disqualified from employment because of Tyson's required medical assessment, has the legal right to ask for a second medical assessment at the job applicant's expense. Then, for any applicant who is not hired by the second assessment, a third, and independent assessment will be made that will determine the final result. According to EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy, the three-step medical assessment process will reportedly help to ensure that disabled employees are given a full and fair opportunity to compete in the workplace.
The consent decree that settles the disability discrimination lawsuit, provides for injunctive relief, which includes training to individuals involved in the assessment procedure, along with posting a notification to employees, and performing EEOC compliance reporting.
At Howard Law, PC, Vincent Howard and our team of talented Orange County labor and employment attorneys are dedicated to fighting for your right to a workplace that is free from violations of the ADA and disability discrimination. For a complementary consultation about your disability and workplace rights, contact us today at 1-800-872-5925.
Tyson Foods Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, February 23, 2012
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