Manager With Kidney Disease Terminated Despite Excellent Performance, Suit Alleges
DETROIT – Global clothing retailer The Gap violated federal law by firing an employee at its Howell, Mich., store because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit (EEOC v. The Gap, Inc.,Case No.2:10CV14559) filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleges that Wayne Cook worked successfully for The Gap as a store manager for nearly three years. In December 2007, Cook took leave to address problems caused by his glomerolonephritis, a kidney disorder. In January 2008, he provided his supervisor with a detailed description of his medical conditions and the problems he was experiencing. In February, Cook returned to work and was fired on the spot, the EEOC said, allegedly for having tolerated the violation of a work rule prior to taking a leave of absence.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from terminating employees because of such medical conditions. The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for Cook in the form of back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Mr. Cook was a well-regarded manager, but The Gap chose to terminate him based upon unjustified concerns surrounding his medical condition,” said EEOC Indianapolis Regional Attorney Laurie Young, whose jurisdiction includes Michigan. “The EEOC will pursue vigorously violations of the ADA, including cases like this one, when employers terminate employees based upon fears and stereotypes about their physical condition.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.