AUGUSTA, Ga. — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against a national provider of indirect industrial supplies, alleging an employee was fired after requesting medical leave for prostate cancer treatment.
The EEOC alleges Vallen Distribution Inc., doing business as Hagemeyer North America Inc., fired a warehouse driver in its Augusta facility the day before his scheduled surgery to treat prostate cancer, instead of granting the employee's request for unpaid medical leave. The EEOC says Hagemeyer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"When an employer knows an employee has a disability and will need to be absent from work because of it, the employer should meet with the employee and seek to accommodate him," said EEOC Atlanta District Office regional attorney Antonette Sewell in a statement. "Medical leave is a widely recognized accommodation and, in Mr. Smith's case, could easily have been granted, preventing the firing of a valuable employee. However, instead of accommodating him, Hagemeyer fired Smith, less than 24 hours before his surgery."
"In this case, Hagemeyer was much more interested in firing an employee with a disability rather than accommodating him and failed in its responsibility under the law," added EEOC Atlanta Office district director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough.
The EEOC seeks reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the fired employee as well as injunctive relief to prevent the company's future discrimination practices.