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EEOC settles ADA employment discrimination complaint

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles the prosecution of employment discrimination matters under federal law in California and nationwide. A state agency in each state handles similar matters, generally under the anti-discrimination law of that state.  In most complaints filed before the EEOC, the complainant is represented by an experienced employment litigation attorney. In some instances, the EEOC investigates and brings its own employment discrimination complaints in larger cases or where it wants to establish  a certain principle of employment law.

The EEOC recently reached a settlement with P.H. Glatfelter Co. for $180,000 on behalf of persons with disabilities who sought forklift operator jobs. The consent decree was approved by a federal district court judge. The complaint had been filed against the paper manufacturing company in September.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the main federal law that protects the rights of disabled persons to be free from discrimination in the workplace. The company imposed "overbroad" physical qualifications on applicants for forklift jobs, according to the EEOC. The company has also agreed in the settlement to initiate a new protocol for interviewing and hiring forklift operators that will not be discriminatory. Under the ADA, an employer must provide "reasonable accommodations" to a worker with disabilities so that he or she can perform the job.

If the person can perform the job duties properly with the assistance of reasonable accommodations, the employer cannot discriminate against the applicant. The same applies with respect to promotions, transfers, termination and all other terms of employment. The settlement pertained to two particular applicants for forklift jobs. The two will split the monetary recovery.

In one case, the company rejected the man because he had only one functioning eye, even though he had many years of prior forklift experience. One of the terms of the settlement was that the company agreed to not practice employment discrimination, and not conduct any impermissible medical examinations of job prospects. It agreed to evaluate each person individually and provide reasonable accommodations if necessary. Furthermore, supervisors at the plant in question must undergo training on federal anti-discrimination laws. These standards apply in California as well as in every other state. 

Source:, "P.H. Glatfelter Co. reaches $180K deal to end federal disability discrimination case", Matt Miller, Jan. 26, 2016

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