For the second time since 2009, Product Fabricators is being charged with disability discrimination. According to an EEOC complaint, the Pine City-based sheet metal manufacturer fired injured employee Adam Breaux instead of accommodating him, a move the commission alleges was retaliation for Breaux’s earlier participation in another EEOC disability discrimination investigation.
The latest incident began when Breaux asked his supervisor about getting time off to have surgery on an ailing shoulder that he claimed he had hurt on the job several months before. Breaux tried to work through the pain, but couldn’t tolerate it any longer.
But instead of granting time off for surgery and starting the interactive accommodations process the ADA requires, Product Fabricators fired Breaux.
It did so only after questioning him about information he had provided to the EEOC in an earlier investigation. That inquiry was looking into allegations that the company violated the ADA by requiring another employee to reveal information about prescription drug use and then regarding him as disabled. EEOC investigators interviewed Breaux in that case.
When Breaux asked about time off for surgery, the EEOC claims, Product Fabricators officials demanded that he sign a prepared statement concerning the interview. Then it allegedly fired him at the end of his shift.
The lawsuit seeks damages for Breaux as well as injunctive relief to stop what appears to be ongoing disability discrimination.
Note: Interfering with an EEOC investigation is a quick ticket to court. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the ADA. Any move seen as discouraging an employee from participating in an EEOC investigation is the civil equivalent of witness tampering.