Grand Rapids Dental Products Company Refused Use of Special Cane for Employee With Severe Arthritis, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - A Grand Rapids, Mich. dental products manufacturer settled a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Ranir, LLC unlawfully failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with severe arthritis in her knee, leading to her discharge.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, employee Judith Fuller requested to use a four-pronged cane on the manufacturing floor to perform her job duties as a dental floss assembler. Ranir denied the request, citing alleged safety concerns, and subsequently fired Fuller after her company-provided leave was exhausted.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers provide reasonable accommodations for the known disabilities of employees. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids (Case No. 1:10-cv-00965) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of the consent decree settling the suit, Ranir will institute a new reasonable accommodation policy, track reasonable accommodation requests and train all employees on ADA requirements and the new policy. Fuller retained private counsel who intervened and settled separately.
"We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree," said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. "It provides meaningful protections for the employees of Ranir. With this resolution, Ranir has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of disabled employees in the workplace."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The Indianapolis District Office of the EEOC oversees Indiana, Michigan, and parts
of Kentucky and Ohio.