Company Fired Disabled Workers Because of Their Inability to Pass an Essential Functions Test, Federal Agency ChargesFort Smith, Ark. –Hospital Housekeeping Services (HHS) violated federal law when it terminated employees who failed its Essential Functions Test (EFT) because of their disabilities, despite their ability to perform their job, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed today. The lawsuit alleges the EFT screened out individuals with disabilities.
According to the EEOC’s suit, around 2015, HHS began requiring its employees to take the EFT at hire, annually, and upon the return from a medical leave of absence. When the employees failed any portion of the EFT, HHS terminated their employment. In all cases, the employees had successfully performed the essential functions of their jobs even though they failed to pass the EFT, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division, Civil Action No. 2:21-cv-02134, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and compensatory damages, as well as an injunction against future discrimination.
“Terminating employees with disabilities who can perform the essential functions of their job violates the ADA. The EEOC will aggressively defend the rights of employees with disabilities to successfully work in an environment that promotes the work abilities of that employee,” said Edmond Sims, acting district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “Employees with disabilities make up a vital portion of the workforce.”
Headquartered in Dripping Springs, Texas, HHS operates in hospitals in approximately thirty States throughout the United States to provide housekeeping services, maintenance services, and dietary services. Additionally, HHS operates housekeeping services at facilities in Fort Smith, Helena-West Helena, Forrest City, and Little Rock, Arkansas and in Memphis, Dyersburg, and Clarksville, Tennessee, and Olive Branch, Mississippi.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
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