Readers may recall that on December 4, 2012 we reported that a staffing agency, Staffmark, sent a woman with a prosthetic leg to work as a temporary SONY employee in an Illinois facility which packages and/or inspects Sony products that are being shipped out. After two days she was told by Staffmark that she would be removed from her job and reassigned “because they did not want anyone bumping into her.” No reassignment was made by Staffmark and she was fired.
The EEOC found “reasonable cause” to believe that Staffmark and Sony fired the woman because of her prosthetic leg, in violation of the ADA, and the EEOC announced that it had sued both companies. An EEOC lawyer stated that the woman “was fired because of unjustified fears about her having a prosthetic leg. Firing employees because of baseless fears and stereotypes about their disabilities is illegal, and the EEOC will defend the victims of such unlawful conduct.”
The EEOC has now reported that Staffmark has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the case, but that SONY continues to fight.
Staffing agencies be cautioned: last year we quoted the EEOC as warning that “Staffing agencies cannot avoid liability for discrimination by saying they were just following an employer-client’s orders, nor can employers avoid liability by saying the victim was ‘really employed’ by their staffing agency.”
An EEOC lawyer has now warned that “If the EEOC is in the picture … [this] may prove far from a good business decision, but rather a short-sighted and costly one.”