EEOC Says Loan Clerk Fired After Objecting to Medical Exam Demanded by Employer Because of Husband’s Condition, Federal Agency Charges
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a disability discrimination lawsuit against an Aransas Pass, Texas-based personal loan company for terminating an employee because of her relationship with her husband, who had a medical condition, and because the employer regarded her as being disabled.
The EEOC’s charges in Civil Action Number 2:09-CV-00184, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, that Economy Finance Co., Inc. refused to allow the employee to return to work unless she submitted to a medical exam that would detect viruses. The EEOC said the request was made when the employer became aware that the employee’s husband had a medical condition related to Hepatitis C. The EEOC is challenging what it has determined is a non-job-related medical examination for a loan clerk given the extremely narrow avenues for transmission of the particular form of virus. Further, the EEOC said, after the employee refused to undergo the medical exam, the company discharged her because it regarded her as disabled due simply to her relationship with her husband.
“The ADA prohibits employers from requiring employees to undergo non-job-related medical testing based on negative stereotypes or irrational fears about individuals who have a relationship or association with someone who has a disability,” said Senior Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office.
It is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to fire an employee who is perceived to be disabled for no reason other than the person’s association with someone who is either disabled or believed to be disabled. Moreover, conditioning the continuation of employment on the submission to a medical examination unrelated to the ability to perform essential job functions also violates the ADA. The EEOC filed suit after determining that Economy Finance Company, Inc. had violated the ADA, and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of San Antonio Field Office said, “This case involves an employment decision that had nothing to do with the employee’s ability to do her job competently, effectively and safely. A suit like this will, we hope, serve to get the message out to employers that workers should be judged on their actual qualifications and ability rather than on speculation and misguided perceptions about their health.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on July 30, 2009.
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