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Dec 142012

medicalchartLong after you have recuperated, a past injury or illness may still hurt when it comes to your employment.

Just ask Michael Matanic, who recently brought a disability bias claim against his former employer, American Tool & Mold of Clearwater, Florida.

An EEOC lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges that although Matanic was in good health and had a recent medical examination showing no physical limitations on his ability to perform the necessary functions of his job as a process engineer, the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it deemed him disabled and wrongfully terminated him as the result of a six-year old successful back surgery.

According to the EEOC, Matanic had been effectively performing his job without incident or injury for two months while attempting to obtain the outdated medical documents relating to the aforementioned surgery to satisfy the documentation requirements of American Tool & Mold’s allegedly discriminatory post-hire medical screening process.

Requiring an employee to provide documentation for old medical conditions violates the ADA; the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee or applicant who is disabled, has a record of disability or who is perceived as disabled.

“Employers must refrain from making workplace decisions based on fears or stereotypes about people with real or perceived disabilities,” says EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. Not only do such actions violate federal law, “they deny qualified workers the opportunity to be productive members of this nation’s work force,” he adds.

Malcolm Medley, the EEOC’s Miami District Director, reiterates that, “When an employer makes an employment decision based on unfounded speculation about future financial risks associated with a disability or perceived disability, it violates federal law.” Medley notes that the EEOC will continue to “act vigorously to protect the rights of workers.”

Matanic’s suit, filed by the EEOC after attempts to reach a voluntary settlement were unsuccessful, seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and changes to the company’s medical examination criteria among other injunctive relief.

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