EEOC Sues American Apparel on ADA Claim

Imagine that you have been diagnosed with cancer. The stress from the diagnosis, the treatment time and the recovery is more than enough to handle. Among all of this, you also do not want to lose your job over the illness’s treatment. You request the appropriate amount of medical leave and provide the needed documentation to your employer, and it is approved. It feels as if the concern over work has been addressed. Now imagine, you return from medical leave and your workplace informs you that your position no longer exists.

A former American Apparel garment worker has traveled that tribulation. Now the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing American Apparel under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for not accommodating the worker. After receiving approval from American Apparel for a medical leave related to the worker’s cancer treatment, the worker came back to work to find his position no longer existed.

The EEOC claims that the company violated the ADA when it denied the worker’s request for a reasonable accommodation and then fired the worker for his disability. The Commission alleges that American Apparel failed in its attempt to provide a reasonable accommodation.

An EEOC attorney explained, “Workers with disabilities cannot be cast off at the first sign of a disability-related issue.” In the lawsuit the EEOC seeks back wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the garment worker. The Commission also seeks injunctive relief. Injunctive relief is meant to prevent future disability discrimination.

American Apparel has the largest garment factory in operation in the United States. The company employs 5,000 people in the Los Angeles area.

Source: Nbclosangeles.com, “US Regulators Sue American Apparel,” 10/5/10

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