The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“), filed a Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA“) lawsuit against Beverage Distributors Company (“BDC”). As a result of that lawsuit a Judge ordered BDC to pay around $200,000 and hire the victim to a position he had been denied because of his impaired eyesight. According to published accounts Mike Sungaila, who is legally blind, worked for BDC for over four years as a driver’s helper. There is no indication that he was anything but a good worker for the company. The problem started when the company decided to eliminate his position and instead use contract laborers. With the economy the way it is, this happens more and more to workers.
Sungaila applied for a position as a night warehouse loader. BDC offered Sungaila the position subject to a pre-employment medical examination. Following the medical examination, BDC withdrew the job offer, believing that Sungaila could not safely perform the functions of the position due to his poor eyesight. The Judge in the case found that Sungaila could perform the job. In Illinois and throughout the country in federal court, an employer cannot take any negative job action against an employee because of a disability. The employer must make a reasonable accommodation. Companies should invest more money in training and they will end up paying less in lawsuits.
“Employers must provide accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and must base all employment-related decisions on facts, not stereotypical assumptions about an employee’s abilities.” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill