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Unlawful Discharge Case Asserting Employee Was Fired Because She Had To Telecommute Settled By EEOC

Employee holds papers about wrongful termination.

In a press release issued on April 23, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit against American Security Insurance Company (American Security). On July 29, 2019, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. American Security Insurance Company,Case No. 1:19-cv-03411, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after attempting to achieve a pre-litigation resolution of the case through its lawfully required conciliation process. In the Consent Decree, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg on April 22, 2020, American Security agreed to pay $49,000 to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit.

The EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of a former employee of American Security, Donna Stephens (Stephens). The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of disability. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are disabled. In the lawsuit, the EEOC claims that American Security wrongfully fired Stephens because of her disability and her need for a reasonable accommodation. In this article, our Sumter County, Florida unlawful discharge lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against American Security.

Employee Claims She Was Unlawfully Fired

Stephens began working for American Security in 1994. The EEOC claims that Stephens is disabled for purposes of the ADA due to her health conditions of diabetes and congestive heart failure. In 2014, Stephens suffered a stroke due to complications with her diabetes. After a period of recovery, Stephens returned to work approximately six weeks later. As a result of the stroke, Stephens required the use of a walker or cane in order to ambulate. Accompanied by a note from her doctor, Stephens requested that she be allowed to telecommute as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. When her request for an accommodation was made, Stephens was working as senior processing clerk. American Security initially granted Stephens’ request and Stephens worked from home for almost one year without issue.

In 2015, Stephens was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery. Stephens’ returned to work some eight weeks later. In December 2015, American Security discontinued its telecommuting program. Consequently, Stephens asked her supervisor if she could be allowed to continue telecommuting as an accommodation for her disability. Stephens’ supervisor denied her request, telling her that she had to work in the office just like everyone else.

Fired Because Of Need For Accommodation

In February 2016, Stephens submitted additional paperwork to continue her accommodation and her request was approved by human resources personnel. After human resources personnel approved Stephens’ request for an accommodation, Stephens’ supervisor became openly hostile and critical of Stephens working from home. On June 6, 2016, Stephens’ supervisor told her that American Security was terminating her employment for alleged poor performance. When Stephens asked why she was never warned that her performance warranted termination and why she was never given an opportunity to improve through a performance improvement plan pursuant to American Security policies, Stephens’ supervisor told her that she was not entitled to what other employees were entitled because she worked from home. In treating Stephens less favorably than other employees who were not disabled and did not need a disability-based accommodation, the EEOC contends that American Security fired Stephens because she is disabled and needed an accommodation for her disability.

Fighting Against Unlawful Discharge

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment laws employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In enforcing the federal employment laws, the EEOC is granted the authority under federal law to file lawsuits on behalf of employees who have been unlawfully fired. In a press release issued by the EEOC on April 23, 2020 regarding the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, Darrell E. Graham, explained that “it’s not only good business sense for employers to make simple and inexpensive modifications to the workplace for a disabled employee—such as permitting telecommuting—but federal law may require that they do so.”

Consult With Wildwood Unlawful Discharge Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Sumter County, Florida unlawful discharge attorneys have extensive experience representing employees who have been unlawfully fired. If you have been wrongfully fired or have questions about your rights under the federal employment laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Wildwood, Florida unlawful discharge lawyers. Our employees’ rights law firm takes unlawful discharge 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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