Employer Cannot Require Leave Based on Unfounded Fear of Injury

     The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a disability discrimination case against an internet retailer, Black Forest Decor, LLC, for allegedly firing one of its warehouse workers for taking a leave of absence due to a disability.  The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that the employee informed the company that she would need surgery within months due to a medical condition from which she suffered.  This employee’s doctor had permitted her to work until she had her surgery.  Despite this, the company forced the employee to take an unpaid leave until that time because it supposedly feared liability if anything were to happen to her.  The employee took the leave as mandated by the company and kept Black Forest apprised of the details regarding her surgery, but Black Forest did not contact her for three weeks, at which point it fired the employee for alleged “excessive absences.”  This alleged conduct is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits companies from discriminating against employees because of disabilities or perceived disabilities.  See Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commis­sion v. Black Forest Décor, LLC, No. 5:19-cv-00894-SLP (W.D. Okla.).

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