EEOC Alleges ADA Violation Against Manufacturing Company and Staffing Firm as Joint Employers

August 13, 2018

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Remedy Intelligent Staffing, LLC, a California-based staffing firm, and Lornamead, Inc, a manufacturer headquartered in New York City. In the suit, the EEOC alleges that both Remedy and Lornamead violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they refused to provide reasonable accommodations to a long-term temporary employee that would have enabled him to continue to work after his kidney condition worsened. Employers with temporary employees from staffing firms should take note as this suit may hold both Remedy and Lornamead liable for an ADA violation under a "joint employer" theory. In addition to having an ADA policy in the Employee Handbook that has been approved by SESCO, we recommend employers ensure they are properly engaging in the interactive process that the ADA requires and documenting such. Before denying an applicant or employee's request for an accommodation, we recommend SESCO be contacted to ensure ADA compliance.

Polycystic kidney disease. The employee was hired by Remedy and assigned to work as a general laborer at Lornamead, Inc's, Tonawanda, New York, facility in June 2013. During his employment, the employee was diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a chronic condition characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. In June 2016, he was assigned to run a machine that required continual bending and twisting, which aggravated his kidney condition and caused him severe pain. The employee asked for a chair to minimize his bending and twisting, but Lornamead refused.

Accommodation requests rejected. Next, the employee provided Remedy with a note from his doctor explaining that repeated bending and twisting could exacerbate his kidney condition and recommending that he refrain from extreme bending, twisting, or lifting, which could predispose him to a cyst rupture. The employee also purportedly suggested several accommodations that could enable him to perform his job duties, including permitting him to sit while operating manual machines, assigning him to a different machine, or assigning him to one of the assembly lines. Instead, Lornamead directed Remedy to end the employee’s three-year assignment at Lornamead. Remedy then failed to place the employee at another job with a different client.

The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.