DECATUR, Ala. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced a lawsuit against Wayne Farms LLC, alleging illegal discrimination against a class of employees
because of their disabilities.
Wayne Farms is one of the country’s largest poultry
producers. According to the EEOC, the defendant maintained an inflexible attendance policy
that provided no allowance for disability-related absences. The EEOC alleges the company fired Latonya Hodges after she reached the maximum number of
allowable absences, despite Hodges providing medical excuses for absences
related to her asthma.
Alleged conduct of this nature violates Title I of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"The ADA requires that employers provide reasonable
accommodations, including time off, to workers with disabilities," said
Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of EEOC's Birmingham District Office,
which has jurisdiction over Alabama, and portions of Mississippi and Florida.
"Attendance policies that categorically limit an employee's absences,
without consideration of the individual circumstances of disabled employees,
can run afoul of federal law."
The EEOC seeks a court order forcing Wayne Farms to change its
policies. The agency additionally seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and
punitive damages and other relief for alleged victims.