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Foodworks to pay $25k and other relief in ADA lawsuit filed by EEOC

The Food Farmacy, Ltd. and J&T Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Foodworks, a chain of grocery stores in Connecticut, will pay $25,000 and will have to supply other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to the lawsuit, Foodworks asked a few applicants disability-related questions before offering them jobs. Questions included: “Do you have any health problems?” Applicants were also asked in interviews whether they had any health/ physical problems, whether they were on any medications, and if so, which medications.

The EEOC suit also alleges that when an employee with epilepsy had a seizure at work, Foodworks fired the employee a few days after the seizure. Allegedly, the employee had performed his job successfully in the past and had also presented medical documentation indicating he was capable of returning to his normal work. According to the suit, Foodworks also failed to post required notices describing the provisions of federal law prohibiting disability discrimination in its Monroe, Conn., store location.

In addition to the $25,000 in monetary relief to the individual who was fired, the four-year resolution prohibits Foodworks from asking pre-offer disability-related questions of applicants in the future as well as prohibits the company from firing an employee because of that employee’s disability or perceived disability. Foodworks is now required to post posters concerning federal anti-discrimination laws in all of its stores, and provide anti-discrimination training to all of its employees, as well as adopt a new anti-discrimination policy that will be distributed to all employees. Foodworks must also issue periodic reports to the EEOC regarding any internal complaints of disability discrimination.

Settlement should remind employers ADA prohibits disability-related discrimination

“This settlement should remind employers that the ADA prohibits employers from asking applicants disability-related inquiries before offering them jobs,” said the EEOC’s Kevin Berry. “When employers take measures to ensure that such inquiries are not made of applicants before making job offers, and that the job selection process is based on non-discriminatory factors, we all win.”

Konrad Batog, the trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “We are pleased that Foodworks worked with us to resolve this lawsuit. We are confident that the individual relief for the former employee and the injunctive relief obtained will help ensure that employees and applicants will be fairly assessed on their ability to do a job, and not wrongfully excluded due to myths or misconceptions about medical conditions.”

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