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Revealing details of ADA claim considered retaliation by EEOC

Employers may face severe penalties for violating the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a 2015 lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that they could also face claims of retaliation if they reveal the details of a worker's condition or claim. The legal action in question was initiated by the EEOC against a Pennsylvania-based construction and engineering firm.

According to the EEOC, the company disclosed the details of a worker's Americans with Disabilities Act claim in a letter sent to 146 members of his local union who worked alongside him at a power plant in Waterford, Connecticut. The worker alleged in his ADA claim that the company failed to make allowances for his disability required under the law and then terminated his employment due to his condition. The letter sent by the company contained details of both the man's condition and the accommodations that he had sought.

The EEOC took exception to the letter, which it claimed amounted to retaliation against the worker concerned and could deter other employees from exercising their rights under the 1990 law. The court hearing the case rejected the company's arguments that the disciplinary action taken against the worker was unrelated to his ADA claim and that it could not retaliate against an individual who it no longer employed.

Employers who are covered under the federal law are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers, and they may face sanctions for not providing them or for tolerating discrimination against disabled workers. However, filing this type of claim can be challenging for those not familiar with the process, and experienced attorneys may provide assistance with the required paperwork.

Source: EEOC, "EEOC Sues Day & Zimmermann NPS for Unlawful Retaliation over Discrimination Charge", Sept. 28, 2015

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