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Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

Garney Construction and Georgia Power Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled its disability discrimination lawsuit against Garney Construction Company and Georgia Power Company.  In June 2012, the EEOC announced that Garney Construction and Georgia Power will pay $49,500 and provide additional training and guidance to employees and management regarding illegal disability discrimination.

The EEOC filed the Georgia disability discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Bryan Mimmovich, who applied for a job as a front-end loader with Garney Construction, a job he had held twice previously.  Mr. Mimmovich was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12 and had been free of seizures for more than eight years while taking anti-seizure medication. 

Garney Construction’s contract with Georgia Power required job applicants to pass a physical examination – either the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination, an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) physical examination for crane operators, or another equivalent medical examination.  However, federal law does not require heavy equipment operators to pass a physical examination.  Because he was taking medication for epilepsy, Mr. Mimmovich automatically failed the DOT physical examination.  Garney Construction withdrew its job offer, stating that its contract with Georgia Power prevented it from hiring Mr. Mimmovich.

Mr. Mimmovich filed a complaint with the EEOC, which filed a lawsuit against Garney Construction and Georgia Power after failing to resolve the issue via mediation and conciliation efforts.  The EEOC’s lawsuit claimed that Garney Power illegally discriminated against Mr. Mimmovich because of his disability and that Georgia Power illegally interfered with Mr. Mimmovich’s employment relationship with Garney Construction by requiring Garney to refuse to hire Mr. Mimmovich when he failed the DOT physical examination instead of requiring Garney Construction to offer Mr. Mimmovich an individualized assessment of his ability to perform the job of front-end loader operator.

To settle the lawsuit, Garney Construction and Georgia Power will pay $49,500 to Mr. Mimmovich.  Both companies will also re-distribute anti-discrimination policies and schedule employee training regarding disability discrimination and pre-employment physicals.

Employers who use pre-employment physical examinations to screen potential employees should take care to ensure that these examinations do not illegally exclude applicants who are actually qualified to perform the job for which they are applying.  Employers should consider offering individual employment assessments to applicants with disabilities and should seek qualified legal advice to answer any questions that arise during the hiring process.


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