We’ve used actual EEOC lawsuits to caution employers many times not to discriminate against employees by using concerns about their health or safety. For example, on December 4th we discussed an ADA lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of an employee who was fired because she had a prosthetic leg and the employer "did not want anyone bumping into her.” An EEOC lawyer stated then that “Firing employees because of baseless fears and stereotypes about their disabilities is illegal.”
We also wrote on November 14th about an employer who fired a housekeeper after learning that she was pregnant, contending that “it could not allow her to continue to work as a housekeeper because of the potential harm to the development of her baby.” An EEOC attorney said that "Employers may not bar pregnant employees from work because of outdated myths or stereotypes.”
Well, employers take note: the EEOC is still targeting baseless fears, outdated myths and stereotypes. It just announced today that it sued an employer on behalf of a mechanic who developed endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, and after having valve replacement surgery was medically released to return to work. He was nonetheless fired. His termination letter stated that "[g]iven the nature of [his] job as a Sheet Metal Mechanic, it is too risky to allow [him] to return to [his] previous line of work," and his notice of discharge stated that he was "unable to return to job as a Sheet Metal Mechanic due to ongoing medical condition."
An EEOC attorney hauled out of mothballs the quotes of his colleagues and stated that "The ADA was enacted to stop employers from refusing to hire or firing qualified employees based on fears, myths or stereotypes about their disabilities."
Employers beware! Do Not Refuse To Hire, and Don’t Fire Qualified Employees Based on Fears, Myths or Stereotypes!