Operator of Alternative School Discharged Social Worker With Breast Cancer Because It Regarded Her as Disabled, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT – A Detroit-based operator of a for-profit alternative school will pay $47,500 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Evans Solutions, Inc. unlawfully discharged a school social worker diagnosed with breast cancer because it regarded her as disabled, even though she had a solid work record with the company.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Case No. 2:09-cv-13016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan), Doris Bennett was a capable school social worker hired for the 2006-2007 school year. In April 2007, she informed her employer that she had been diagnosed with stage-zero breast cancer. In response, Bennett’s supervisor prepared an e-mail for Evans’ chief of staff which gave details about Bennett’s breast cancer and recommended that another school social worker be hired for the following academic year. Defendant let her go at the end of the 2006-2007 school year, the only school social worker who was not retained.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of the consent decree resolving the suit (entered by Judge Avern Cohn), Evans Solutions will pay $47,500 to Bennett. Evans also agreed to train all of its management personnel annually on the ADA and the other laws enforced by the EEOC.
“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “It provides meaningful relief to Ms. Bennett and protections for the employees of Evans Solutions. It also reminds employers that they cannot make employment decisions based on fears and stereotypes about people with cancer.”
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.