The EEOC is in existence to enforce federal laws which prohibit discrimination in the workplace. When an employee feels that a discriminatory act has occurred, they can file a complaint with the EEOC. It is also wise to seek council with an attorney who is an expert at employment law. Many times in cases of workplace discrimination a case is not sought because the individual does not recognize the act as discriminatory. It is very important for those who suspect this type of illegitimate activity on the behalf of an employer to seek council from experts such as Tayeb Hyderally. Such is the case involving a worker who was terminated once she asked for time off to have a life saving surgery.
The EEOC Claim
There are not too many cases in which a heart condition can be considered a disability which is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. (ADA) However, in New Hampshire the EEOC did charge a Nashua company under the ADA. The company terminated Nancy Hajjar because of her heart condition. Windmill International, Inc. terminated Ms. Hajjar one week after she requested time off for a heart procedure which would clear her clogged arteries and she stated she may possibly need heart surgery as well. According to the EEOC, this was potentially a life-threatening impairment.
Ms. Hajjar informed the company of her condition on March 22, 2010. She told them that she was suffering with blocked carotid arteries and that it was potentially life threatening. Following this, on April 5 she told the company that she would need some time off for the surgery and could potentially need further heart surgery as well. One week later, the company alleged she had poor job performance and terminated her. However, the EEOC claimed that their explanation was false since other employees who had performance issues were issued a written performance improvement plan. Ms. Hajjar was never given a written improvement plan or given a chance to correct the alleged poor performance like other employees.
The EEOC filed the case against Windmill International for firing an employee who they perceived to have a disability. This is in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act since they perceive the disability. According to the EEOC, it is against the law to fire someone because of a disability whether that disability is imagined or real in the opinion of the employer.
Attorneys for the EEOC state that it is a serious infraction to fire someone when they reveal that they have a serious medical condition. The company still feels that they will be absolved of any wrong doing. Windmill is a defense contractor which was formed by veterans in 1988 and completes a lot of work for the federal government. They have won several small business awards.
This case may be a very important case as very few cases involving discriminatory practices against those with heart conditions exist. The EEOC receives thousands of charges of discrimination; but very few of them end up being litigated in the courts. In just 2010 alone the EEOC saw almost 100,000 complaints nationwide. About a fourth of these were involving disability discrimination. However, of these the EEOC brought only 271 suits. And of these only 41 were related to disability claims. In the last 10 years there has only been one discrimination case filed by the EEOC in New Hampshire. This case Ms. Hajjar vs. Windmill International is the only one filed over the last 10 years. This is a case worth watching as it could potentially set the precedent for other disability discrimination cases in the future.