FRESNO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced June 30 that Sensient Natural Ingredients LLC, a division of Sensient Technologies, will pay $800,000 after allegations of disability discrimination related to leaves of absence.
"We commend Sensient for resolving this complaint and implementing measures on a national level to cultivate a workplace environment free from unlawful discrimination," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Merced County, the site of the alleged discrimination, in its jurisdiction.
"Given the rise of disability leave cases, we encourage other employers to also examine their own practices and promote compliance with the ADA."
According to allegations, many employees of the company have taken extended leaves of absence to treat disabilities that include surgeries and cancer treatments. The company allegedly either discharged these employees for surpassing leave limits or required them to come back to work without any accommodations.
Additionally, Sensient purportedly refused to accept employees back after they attempted to return to work and fired them instead.
"Oftentimes we forget that a disability can happen to anyone at any time,” said Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno local office. “Finite leave policies that do not allow for reasonable accommodations, which in turn may result in the discharge of employees with disabilities, violate federal law."