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Disabled Central Florida Employee Unlawfully Fired For Being A “Liability” EEOC Lawsuit Charges

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For the past two decades, our Ocala, Florida unlawful termination attorneys have fought for the rights of employees who have been unlawfully terminated. Having represented unlawful termination victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida unlawful termination lawyers know that employers often consider employees with a serious health condition as a liability. Instead of providing them with a reasonable accommodation that would enable to perform their job and continue working, our Ocala, Florida unlawful termination attorneys have learned, many employers target employees with a serious health condition for termination. In this article, our Marion County, Florida unlawful termination lawyers explain how a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that employees with a serious health condition are often protected from discrimination under federal employment discrimination law.

Unlawful Termination Lawsuit

In a press release issued on June 30, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS). On June 30, 2021, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Case No. 3:21-cv-00656, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after initially endeavoring to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process.

Unlawful Termination Victims’ Rights

The EEOC has filed the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of UPS, Mark Fowler (Fowler). The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of disability. In order to protect employees from disability discrimination, the ADA also mandates that employers reasonably accommodate disabled employees.

The EEOC’s regulations interpreting the ADA explain that the purpose of a reasonable accommodation is to make “modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable an individual with a disability [ ] to perform the essential functions of that position.” By requiring employers to reasonably accommodate disabled workers, the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirement enables disabled employees to perform their jobs and continue their employment. When an employer fails to reasonable accommodate a disabled employee, the employer has discriminated against the employee on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA, unless the employer establishes that accommodating the disabled employee would have imposed an undue hardship. The EEOC alleges that UPS discriminated against Fowler in violation of the ADA by failing to accommodate his disability and firing him because of his disability.

Employee Claims Unlawful Termination

In September 2019, Fowler applied to work for UPS as a package handler at its warehouse in Jacksonville, Florida. Fowler suffers from brittle diabetes, which the EEOC claims constitutes a disability for purposes of the ADA. Fowler wears an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. Fowler monitors his blood sugar on a continuous basis and needs to check his blood sugar level every one-to-two hours to determine whether he needs to eat or drink something to regulate his blood sugar.

About one week after Fowler applied for employment with UPS, a HR Supervisor for UPS invited Fowler for an interview and a tour of the UPS warehouse. During this in-person interview, Fowler discussed his diabetes and need for an accommodation with the HR Supervisor. The accommodation that Fowler requested was to be able to check his blood sugar level every one-to-two hours between unloading trailers. Fowler also asked that on those occasions when his blood sugar was low, he would be able to take a brief break of less than five minutes to eat or drink something to regulate his blood sugar.

Disabled Worker Denied Accommodation

The HR Supervisor initially said that Fowler’s requested accommodation would be acceptable and offered Fowler the position to work as a package handler. On September 24, 2019, Fowler began working for UPS. After Fowler completed his first shift without any issues, the HR Supervisor met with Fowler in her office. During the meeting, the HR Supervisor told Fowler that he was not capable of doing the job because of his disability and tried to change his permanent position to a temporary position. Fowler explained that he did not want a temporary position and that he was capable of doing his job with the accommodation he requested.

After Fowler completed his next shift without any issues the following day, the HR Supervisor once again met with Fowler in her office. During this meeting, the HR Supervisor told Fowler that he was a liability to the company in reference to his disability. The HR Supervisor also told Fowler that UPS would not grant him the requested accommodation—without providing Fowler with an explanation. Shortly after the meeting concluded, the HR Supervisor called Fowler and left him a voice mail message terminating his employment with UPS.

Lawyers For Unlawful Termination 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. As part of its efforts to protect employees from unlawful discriminatory employment practices, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including disability discrimination victims.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on June 30, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert E. Weisberg, stated that “it is imperative that employers provide reasonable accommodations [for disabled workers], especially where the accommodation would pose no expense and little, if any, disruption to the workplace.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Paul Valenti, stated that “the EEOC will continue to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to work—free of discrimination and fear of losing their job.” “Employers must engage in the interactive process,” Mr. Valenti observed, “and provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities—these people deserve the right to work with dignity.”

Ocala, FL Unlawful Termination Attorneys

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida unlawful termination lawyers have litigated unlawful termination cases in Florida courts for more than twenty years. If you have been unlawfully terminated or have questions about your rights as an unlawful termination victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida unlawful termination attorneys. Our employment and labor law attorneys take unlawful termination 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.

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