Are Job Applicants & Employees Protected From Disability Discrimination Based On A Prior Injury?
Having represented Florida employment discrimination victims for more than two decades, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys know that some employers view job applicants and employees with a prior injury as liabilities. In far too many cases, our Ocala, Florida employment discrimination lawyers have learned, employers refuse to hire job applicants with a prior injury or target employees with a prior injury for termination. Although generally never disclosed by an employer to a job applicant or employee, employers refuse to “assume the risk” of employing individuals with a prior injury because they regard them as having a disability. In this article, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys explain how a disability discrimination lawsuit recently resolved by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that many job applicants and employees with a prior injury are protected from disability-based discrimination.
Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
On May 11, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree settling a disability discrimination lawsuit against Jordan Carriers, Inc. (Jordan Carriers). On October 8, 2020, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Jordan Carriers, Inc., Case No. 5:20-cv-00191, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by the U.S. District Court Judge on May 11, 2021, Jordan Carriers agreed to pay $60,000 to resolve the disability discrimination case.
Employee Rights Under Federal Law
The EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of an individual who applied for employment with Jordan Carriers, Terrence Haley (Haley). The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of disability. Under the ADA job applicants and employees are protected from disability discrimination when they have an actual disability, a record of a disability, or an employer regards them having a disability, even though they are not, in fact, disabled. Thus, when a job applicant or employee has a prior injury that is not an actual disability, the job applicant or employee is still protected from discrimination on the basis of disability if the employer regards the job applicant or employee as having a disability due to the prior injury. Generally, an employer regards a job applicant or employee as having a disability due to a prior injury when the employer believes that the individual’s prior injury somehow limits or impairs his or her ability to perform the job.
The EEOC alleges that Jordan Carriers discriminated against Haley in violation of the ADA by refusing to hire him because Jordan Carriers regarded Haley as disabled because of a prior back injury.
Alleged Unlawful Failure To Hire
On September 24, 2017, Haley filled out an online application for an over-the-road truck driver position with Jordan Carriers. The EEOC maintains that based on his prior work experience, Haley possessed the requisite qualifications for the position. After receiving his application, Jordan Carriers offered Haley a truck driver position. However, Jordan Carriers’ job offer was conditioned upon Haley successfully completing a pre-employment screening, including a physical examination, to be conducted at Jordan Carriers’ facility.
On October 1, 2017, Haley submitted to pre-employment screening. During the pre-employment screening, Haley informed Jordan Carriers that he had suffered a back injury some fourteen years ago. After disclosing his prior back injury, Haley was immediately summoned into an office where a representative of Jordan Carriers told Haley that the company would not hire him because of his past medical history. Haley repeatedly asked the representative for permission to undergo a physical examination to prove that he was physically able to do the job. Despite Haley’s pleas, the representative denied Haley’s request, telling Haley: “we have enough information to make a judgment” and “the company does not want to take a chance on you.” The representative then told Haley that his conditional job offer was revoked and told Haley to leave.
Lawyers For Employment Discrimination Victims
The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In protecting employees against employment discrimination, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employees subjected to unlawful discriminatory employment practices, including disability-based discrimination.
In a press release issued by the EEOC on May 11, 2021, regarding the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, Bradley Anderson, explained that “refusing to hire a qualified candidate simply because of a past injury is a violation of federal law.” In commenting on the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, Marsha Rucker, observed that “unfortunately, some employers still deny job opportunities to qualified people who are ready and able to perform the job simply because of myths and fears about their medical impairments or disabilities.”
Ocala, FL Employment Discrimination Attorneys
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers in counties throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than twenty years. If you have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace or have questions about your rights as a victim of employment discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida employment discrimination attorneys. Our employment and labor law attorneys take employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.