Company pays EEOC $79,000 rather than provide a pair of gloves to an employee with a skin rash


That reads a little bit like a headline from The Onion.

But according to this press release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a company will pay $79,000 and provide other relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit in which the EEOC charged that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide an employee with a disability with a reasonable accommodation, which resulted in her discharge.

Here’s more on the underlying lawsuit:

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, [the company] refused to accommodate the employee’s severe dyshidrotic eczema, a skin condition. While working for [the company], the employee learned she was allergic to rubber and plastics. She requested a reasonable accommodation, including the ability to wear a different type of glove while working.

Instead of accommodating the employee, [the company] forced her to leave work when she had flare-ups, the EEOC said. When she left work, she was penalized by receiving attendance points. Ultimately, the EEOC said, [the company] fired her after she had accumulated attendance points that accrued as a direct result of the company’s failure to provide her with a reasonable accommodation.

With all that blogging money I make (sigh), I dropped a mint for some endangered whale skin gloves with retractable Adamantium claws like Wolverine so I can scare neighborhood children and plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Unless this employee made a similar outlandish request, I can’t see how providing a set of non-reactive gloves would cause the company an undue hardship.

Then we have the strict, no-fault attendance policy, which we all know is an ADA/FMLA violation waiting to happen when followed to the letter. Penalizing eligible employees for taking time off for a serious health condition (FMLA) or reasonable time off for a disability (ADA) often results in a lawsuit and a settlement check or jury verdict.

The EEOC emphasized in its press release that “employers should determine whether an employee who needs leave because of a medical condition is entitled to an accommodation under the ADA.” That accommodation could be as simple as providing a pair of gloves to avoid exacerbating a skin condition.

As part of the consent decree, managerial and human resource employees at the company must receive ADA training.

I’m available, and I promise to leave my Wolverine gloves at home.

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