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BAE Systems Subsidiary to Pay $55,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Qualified Material Handler Fired Because of His Obesity,  Federal Agency Charged

BAE Systems Tactical Vehicle Systems, LP will pay $55,000 to settle a  disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today

According  to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No.:11-cv-3497), BAE fired Ronald Kratz II  because of his disability, morbid obesity, and because it regarded him as  disabled.  The agency said that at the  time of his discharge, Kratz was qualified to perform the essential job functions  of his material handler position.  The EEOC  also said the company did not engage in any discussion with him to determine whether  reasonable accommodations were possible that would have allowed him to continue  to perform his duties.

The ADA  Amendments Act of 2008 not only broadened the scope of coverage of impairments  covered under the ADA, it also expanded the obligations of an employer to  determine whether there are reasonable accommodations which would allow a  person to perform the essential functions of the position.  The EEOC filed this suit in U.S. District  Court for the Southern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent  decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Gray H. Miller, requires the company  to pay $55,000 in monetary relief to Kratz and provide him with six months of  outplacement services.  Additionally, the  decree requires training for the company’s managers and human resources  professionals on equal employment opportunity compliance, disability  discrimination law and responsibilities regarding reasonable accommodation to  employees and applicants.  The company  must also post an anti-discrimination notice.

“The  law protects morbidly obese employees and applicants from being subjected to  discrimination because of their obesity,” said Kathy Boutchee, the EEOC’s  senior trial attorney in Houston.  “So  long as an employee can perform the essential job duties of a position, with or  without reasonable accommodation, the employee should be allowed to work on the  same basis as any non-obese employee.  Employers  cannot fire disabled employees based on perceptions and prejudice.  Mr. Kratz had a good performance rating and  did not deserve to be fired.”

Jim Sacher,  the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, said, “When the EEOC brings suit, it  does so in the public interest.  In this case, our goal is to enlighten both employers and employees of the ADA’s  provisions.  For that reason, the  inclusion of the training and other injunctive relief is an equally important  part of this settlement.”

BAE Systems  Tactical Vehicle Systems, LP is a subsidiary of BAE Systems, Inc. According to  the company website, www.baesystems.com,  BAE Systems, Inc. is the U.S.-based segment of BAE Systems plc, with  headquarters in Arlington, Va.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information is available on the  EEOC's web site at www.eeoc.gov.

© Copyright U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 209
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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