Pennsylvania construction firm Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. has settled a suit with a Tyrone, N.Y., man after it refused to hire him for a backhoe operator position.
Christopher Woomer applied for the position at Hawbaker, and demonstrated his ability to operate the backhoe. The company, which runs quarries and asphalt plants in New York and Pennsylvania, made Woomer a conditional employment offer, contingent on passing a physical examination. During the exam, Woomer revealed that he is an insulin-dependent diabetic. That’s when Hawbaker yanked the job offer.
Woomer filed an EEOC complaint alleging that Hawbaker violated the ADA by rescinding the offer. After settlement attempts failed, the EEOC sued on Woomer’s behalf.
That got the company’s attention. Rather than risking a more expensive court ruling, Hawbaker settled, agreeing to pay Woomer $200,000. A four-year consent decree requires Hawbaker to ensure its job-offer process complies with the ADA.
Note: Hawbaker could have avoided this lawsuit by engaging in the interactive accommodations process required by the ADA. By having an honest conversation with Woomer, the company might have learned that relatively minor accommodations allow diabetics to perform most jobs without disrupting operations.
Blanket prohibitions against hiring applicants with a particular medical condition are open invitations for an ADA lawsuit. The best course is to evaluate each employee’s situation on its own merits.