CTI, Inc., a Tucson Area Trucking Company, Sued by the EEOC For Disability Discrimination
CTI, Inc., a Tucson-area regional trucking company has been charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with violating federal law due to its practice of automatically firing employees after medical leave without considering or offering possible reasonable accommodations.
According to the suit, Elizabeth Barr, a CTI payroll and billing clerk, who suffered from a rare eye disease that substantially limited her eyesight, needed multiple surgeries to correct her eyesight. She requested and used leave accorded to her under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This entitles eligible employees of covered employers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Before her leave was to expire CTI informed Barr that if her doctor did not release her to “full, unrestricted duty,” her employment and benefits might be terminated. Barr requested additional time for recovery, but CTI denied her and refused to explore possible accommodations for Barr.
EEOC Alleges Disability Discrimination Cause for CTI’s Termination of Employee
The EEOC alleges that CTI terminated Barr’s employment because of her disability and/or because she asked for a possible accommodation and also that other employees were discharged because of their disabilities and/or because they needed reasonable accommodations.
Such alleged actions violate Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Initial attempts were made through the EEOC’s conciliation process to reach a pre-litigation settlement, but failed. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages that include back pay, compensation for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages in addition to injunctive relief, that includes the reinstatement of the affected individuals and other relief to prevent further discriminatory practices.
“Recent amendments to the ADA make clear that the protections for persons with disabilities should be broadly applied,” said EEOC Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize. Many are qualified, ready and willing to work — all they need is an equal opportunity.”
EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Once an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process to see if there are ways that the employee can be accommodated, rather than simply firing the employee. We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations unless there is an undue hardship.”
Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation