According to published accounts Staffmark violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle its lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The problem arose when the company terminated a woman with a prosthetic leg because of her disability. This type of activity is against the law and will usually result in a severe penalty. Under the law, a company may not treat an employee different just because of a legitimate disability. In this case Dorothy Shanks worked in Romeoville, Illinois where she inspected Sony televisions. On Shanks's second day on the job, a Staffmark employee told her that she was being removed from the work site because they did not want anyone to bump into her or knock her down. You can imagine how insulting this type of comment would be. The poor woman is just trying to make a living and do her job and yet the company won't leave her alone. And you can just assume that a person with this type of disability is limited in the types of jobs she can apply for. There is no indication that she wasn't doing her job properly or that there was any need for intervention.
The employee told Shanks the company would find her another placement, but she was never sent on another assignment following her removal from that job. So they not only treated her in a horrible fashion but they also lied to her. They keep her hanging on hoping she would be called for another job, only for her to realize she was going to be out of work. You can imagine how much fear she must have faced thinking about how she was going to pay her rent or feed herself. Why should anyone have to go through this type of fear and be treated this way? This is the reason we have discrimination laws. When a company can make a decision based not on a persons work performance but on the fact they only have one leg, things are really out of whack. There is not legitimate reason for not allowing Shanks to remain on the job other than outright discrimination. Not only does the company have to pay $100,000, but they will also have the EEOC reviewing there employment records and keeping a tight eye on them.
In Illinois workers are not only protected by federal law but also by the Illinois Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on a number of protected categories. And the Illinois law is more broad than the federal law so employers in Illinois should pay extra attention to how they treat employees. Under Illinois law you can ask for lost wages, lost benefits, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. You can also ask the Judge to void any contracts the company has with the government and not allow the company to enter into any contracts with the government for a number of years. This of course adds a great deal of leverage to your case. As most cases settle prior to trial, leverage in discrimination lawsuits is very important. The most important thing that you can do as an employee is stick up for your rights. The company can't do anything they want to you. Both state and federal laws are in place to help you and govern the conduct of your employer.
"The ADA makes it illegal to fire a disabled employee due to baseless fears that the individual may injure herself or others," said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson