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EEOC Settles Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against Central Florida Employer

Female employee in wheel-chair at the office

In a press release issued on December 18, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree resolving a disability discrimination lawsuit against Interconnect Cable Technologies Corporation (ICTC). On March 19, 2020, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Interconnect Cable Technologies Corporation, Case No. 8:20-cv-00644, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Before commencing the lawsuit in federal court, the EEOC initially attempted to resolve the case through its statutorily required conciliation process. Unable to settle the case through conciliation efforts, the EEOC invoked its statutory right to address the alleged unlawful discriminatory employment practices through litigation.

In the Consent Decree, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Susan C. Bucklew on December 18, 2020, ICTC agreed to pay $35,000 to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit. In this article, our Ocala, Florida lawyers for wrongful termination victims explain the EEOC’s allegations of unlawful discriminatory employment practices against ICTC.

Wrongful Termination Victims’ Rights

The EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of ICTC, Michelle Combs (Combs). The ADA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees on the basis of disability. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all aspects of employment, including job duties, compensation, demotion, promotion, and discharge. When an employee is fired because of his or her disability, the employee has been wrongfully terminated in violation of the ADA. Under the ADA, discrimination on the basis of disability also includes not making reasonable accommodations to employees with a disability. This means that an employer commits unlawful discrimination within the meaning of the ADA when the employer fails to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee. The EEOC alleges that ICTC violated the ADA by demoting and then discharging Combs because of her disability.

Worker Claims Wrongful Termination

ICTC is an electronics manufacturer based in Brooksville, Florida. In 1996, Combs began working for ICTC. More than twenty years after her employment began, Combs was working as a planner for ICTC when she was involuntarily hospitalized on June 5, 2017 under Florida’s Baker Act. Combs was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and released from the hospital after five days. The EEOC claims that Combs’ medical condition of major depressive disorder constitutes a disability within the meaning of the ADA.

On June 13, 2017, Combs returned to work and advised management of her health condition that same day. The next day, ICTC demoted Combs from planner to assembler, which reduced Combs’ pay by $2.00 per hour. After being demoted to the assembler position, Combs voluntarily took an opening in the stock room. On October 20, 2017, ICTC terminated Combs’ employment. Although ICTC claimed that it fired Combs because it did not have non-military assembly work, Combs was no longer working as an assembler when she was fired. Instead, Combs was working in the stock room. Because Combs was working in the stock room when she was fired, the EEOC claims that the proffered reason for Combs’ termination was without basis in fact and a pretext for unlawful disability discrimination.

Attorneys For Wrongful Termination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment and labor laws making disability discrimination an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. As part of its statutory mission of eliminating discriminatory employment practices from America’s workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including job applicants and employees subjected to unlawful disability discrimination.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on December 18, 2020 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert Weisburg, explained that “employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about mental illness are unlawful, and the EEOC will take action to prevent it.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Tampa Field Office, Evangeline Hawthorne, stated that “demoting or firing individuals because of disability, whether physical or mental, violates federal laws.” “This resolution,” Ms. Hawthorne added, “brings the EEOC closer to achieving its mission of eliminating disability discrimination from America’s workplace.”

Ocala, FL Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida attorneys for wrongful termination victims have litigated employment and labor law cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been wrongfully terminated or have questions about your protection against wrongful termination under the federal employment and labor laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida lawyers for wrongful termination victims. Our employee rights law firm takes wrongful 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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