Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 16, 2018 - The operator of a nationwide chain of gas stations has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a claim that it unlawfully rejected a manager’s request for an accommodation for his bad back.
Gregory D. Jordan, an employment attorney with the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan in Austin, Texas, notes, “This case helps illustrate why it is so important for an employer to have a candid discussion with any employee that asserts he or she has a disability and requests a reasonable accommodation.”
Murphy Oil USA, in addition to paying damages, also agreed to implement written policies to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to train its employees regarding their responsibilities under the federal disability discrimination law.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuit on behalf of a long-term employee who alleged that Murphy Oil required him to perform work that violated physician-imposed restrictions that help him cope with a serious back condition. According to the EEOC, the employee was fired after he complained to Murphy Oil management about the company’s failure to accommodate his physical limitations.
The EEOC charged that Murphy Oil’s actions violated the ADA. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for a worker’s disability unless it would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. In addition to unlawfully failing to accommodate the employee’s disability, Murphy Oil’s retaliation against the employee by firing him also violated the ADA, the EEOC charged.
EEOC officials said that the lesson to be drawn from the settlement is that employers, when informed that an employee has a disability, should initiate a dialogue with the employee designed to find a reasonable accommodation rather than simply terminating the employee.
In this case, the government said, that dialogue never took place.
“If the employer and employee do not have a good discussion about the employee’s disability, problems can easily arise,” concludes Jordan.
The case is EEOC v. Murphy Oil USA, No. 2:16-CV-00048-AM-CW (W.D. Texas, settlement announced Aug. 13, 2018).
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