EEOC Charges Distributor with Disability Discrimination

The EEOC alleges that a company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against an employee when they fired him after having a heart attack.

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EEOC vs. Baldwin Supply Company

Timothy E. Collins was an employee of Baldwin Supply Company as a laborer, installing conveyor belts, from April 2011 to July 2011. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Baldwin Supply violated federal law when they fired Collins after he suffered a heart attack.

The charge states that Collins suffered a heart attack in late July 2011. In early August 2011, Collins’ doctor released him to return to work without restrictions. When Collins contacted Baldwin Supply to let them know he was cleared to work, they only allowed him to return for two days. Collins repeatedly contacted his managers about returning to work, but they did not respond. Baldwin Supply maintains that they did not allow Collins to return to work because there was no work for him to do.

Baldwin Supply’s conduct violates the ADA, which protects employees from discrimination based on their real or perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit after trying reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process did not work.

Baldwin Supply has agreed to a two-year consent decree in order to resolve the issue. The consent decree provides $50,000 in monetary relief to Collins. It also requires Baldwin Supply to train its management staff on the ADA, train its non-management employees of their rights under the ADA – including the right to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. Baldwin Supply must also report any complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC during this two-year term.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA became law in 1990 and bans discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of life – employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.

The ADA is enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

What is a Consent Decree?

A consent decree is ‘an agreement or settlement to resolve a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt.’

The Role of the EEOC

The EEOC “is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

They describe their role as having:

“…the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law. Our role in an investigation is to fairly and accurately assess the allegations in the charge and then make a finding. If we find that discrimination has occurred, we will try to settle the charge. If we aren’t successful, we have the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public.”

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