A Colorado construction company will pay $42,000 to settle a disability discrimination case brought by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Gollnick Construction Inc d/b/a Colorado Excavating, Gollnick Construction, which operates under the name Colorado Excavating, was accused of discriminating against a worker who suffered a seizure on the job. The construction company fired office assistant Dora Marquez four days after her seizure. A September press release by the EEOC said Marquez felt the seizure coming on and informed the office manager before it began. She left the hospital on the same day and had no restrictions. Regardless, Colorado Excavating still fired her because of her disability.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to discuss potential reasonable accommodations with employees with disabilities in an interactive process.
According to the complaint, after Marquez showed up to her next scheduled shift after the incident, the company notified her that her job was being terminated. The document said her termination letter cited her failure to disclose her seizure disorder to her employer upon her hiring.
“Given that you did not disclose your medical condition prior to employment and no other positions are available to accommodate your inability to safely operate a company vehicle, Colorado Excavating is forced to terminate your employment,” the complaint says.
The EEOC’s suit confirms Marquez had a valid Colorado driver’s license and that at the time of her termination, she was capable of performing all of the essential tasks associated with her job.
The EEOC also accused Colorado Excavating of record-keeping and confidentiality violations because the company shredded employment applications and did not keep medical information in separate files. The EEOC tried to settle the dispute through a conciliation, or alternative dispute resolution, process, but when that approach was unsuccessful, filed a suit in federal court in Denver and settled on Tuesday.
The $42,500 Colorado Excavating will pay Marquez covers back pay and compensatory damages. The settlement also includes a consent decree, which requires training for employees, management and human resources personnel that emphasizes disability discrimination and the interactive process through which accommodations should be made. The first training session will focus on epilepsy and include a segment of Epilepsy 101 training by the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado.
The consent decree lasts three years.
The unemployment rate for people with epilepsy is two to three times that of the general public, according to an EEOC statement released Tuesday. People with epilepsy who are employed are more likely to be underemployed and earn less than those without a disability.