The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged Zachry Construction, a San Antonio based construction and industrial contractor, with violating a federal law that protects individuals with disabilities. The agency alleges the contractor violated this law when it fired several employees with disabilities. The contractor became aware of the employees’ disabilities during a post-offer medical questionnaire and subsequent medical examinations. Before their terminations, the EEOC claims these individuals were performing their job duties in a satisfactory manner.According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, in June 2015, Zachry Construction hired an employee for a Boilermaker I position in Pascagoula, Miss. At the time this employee was hired, the contractor required the employee to complete a medical questionnaire. In August of that same year (a month after the employee began working), the contractor required the employee to undergo a fitness for duty examination. This examination led the contractor to become aware of the employee’s disability, which led to the employee’s termination. EEOC maintains that at the time of the dismissal, the employee was satisfactorily performing the duties of the position.
EEOC alleges the contractor engaged in the practice of terminating employees once their disability status was discovered on at least two additional occasions. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office completed their investigation and attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their known or unknown disabilities. Contractors must engage in good faith efforts with the applicant or employee to determine if they are able to perform the duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodations. Contractors must be mindful not to make personnel decisions based on assumptions of an employee’s disability status as this can lead to not only an investigation if reported to the EEOC but also an array of remedies.