The EEOC has just sued a San Antonio company today for allegedly firing an employee after she had an attack of Bell’s palsy, a neurological disorder. When she returned to work after being hospitalized, she was fired because management believed that she had suffered a stroke and was concerned that she might experience another one on the job.
Employers should be aware – but many are not – that the ADA prohibits making an adverse determination about an employee – such as termination — not only based upon a disability or record of disability, but also because the employer perceives the employee to be disabled.
An EEOC trial attorney stated that it is illegal “to fire someone simply because of an inaccurate perception about a medical impairment or disability." Another EEOC attorney said that the employee was cleared medically to return to work and should have been permitted to return to work, but instead “the company allowed speculation and fears over her perceived disability to prevent this employee from returning to her job. This is exactly the type of discrimination the ADA was meant to address and stop."