Nineteen-year-old disabled employee was denied intermittent leave as reasonable accommodation, then fired, federal agency charged
ATLANTA – Treehouse Foods, Inc. / Treehouse Foods Private Brands, Inc., a food manufacturer in Forest Park, Ga., To pay $ 50,000 to settle disability discrimination lawsuit filed by US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC lawsuit accused Treehouse Foods of denying its 19-year-old employee’s request for intermittent leave without pay as an accommodation to receive treatment for his disabilities. Instead, the EEOC said, the company failed to engage in the required interactive process and assessed employee attendance violation points as part of a policy of rigid presence. Treehouse Foods then fired the employee for exceeding the authorized number of points of presence, the EEOC said, despite providing a medical apology for her absences and despite the fact that the leave was subsequently approved. by Treehouse Foods Leave Administrator.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed a lawsuit (Civil Action # 1: 21-CV-0204-WMR-JKL) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Treehouse Foods will pay the employee $ 50,000 in damages. In addition, the company will provide the employee with full pension and retirement benefits. Treehouse Foods has also agreed to produce regular reporting, monitoring, annual training, updating and redistribution of its ADA policies and posting of notices.
“An employer’s refusal to accommodate an employee who requests a defined period of intermittent medical leave for the treatment of a disability – which would allow the employee to return to work in the immediate future – is a widely recognized violation of the law, “said Marcus G. Keegan, regional attorney for the Atlanta district office of the EEOC. âThe EEOC is pleased that the employee here has been compensated and that Treehouse Foods has agreed to update and disseminate its ADA policy as well as further educate its employees on its obligations under the ADA. This company will be better equipped to respond the next time an employee requests intermittent time off to accommodate a disability. “
Darrell Graham, District Manager for the Atlanta office, said: âThe EEOC is committed to seeking relief for workers who are aggrieved by employers who do not engage in the interactive process required by law. and that discriminate against employees who have the ability to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.
The EEOC advances opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.