EEOC Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Heritage Home Group

February 05, 2018

Heritage Home Group, LLC (Heritage Home), a North Carolina corpor­ation that designs, manufactures, sources and retails home furnishings, violated federal law when it denied a reasonable accommodation to one of its employees and then fired him.

According to the complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Heritage Home hired Michael Woods to work as a machine operator at its Hickory Chair Company manufacturing plant in Hickory, N.C., in October 2015. Woods, a diabetic, developed an infection in one of his toes in March 2016. Woods underwent an operation to have the toe amputated, and was subsequently diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in both feet. The EEOC said that around April 8, 2016, Woods, who was out of work on short-term disability leave, in­formed Heritage Home of his anticipated return to work the first week of June, since he needed the additional leave to recover fully. In a letter dated April 29, 2016, Heritage Home informed Woods that it was terminating his employment because he would not be able to return to work until then.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC seeks back pay, compen­satory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.