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EEOC Sues Citgo Petroleum Corporation For Disability Discrimination

Lemont Refinery Withdrew Job Offer After Discovering Applicant Had Vision Impairment, Federal Agency Charges

Citgo Petroleum Corporation violated federal law when it withdrew a job offer from an applicant after discovering he had permanent vision loss in one eye, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Dale Hudson applied for the position of operations technician trainee at Citgo's Lemont, Ill., crude oil refinery. After completing a multi-step hiring process, Hudson was offered the job. During a post-offer medical examination, Hudson disclosed he had permanent vision loss in one eye. Once Citgo became aware of Hudson's monocular vision, they withdrew the job offer -- despite his qualifications and experience.

The federal agency said Citgo illegally failed to hire Hudson because of his actual or perceived impairment and improperly imposed eligibility criteria not related to or consistent with business necessity. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on an actual or perceived disability.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Citgo Petroleum Corporation, 18-CV-5490) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction against Citgo prohibiting employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability in the future and ordering Citgo to carry out policies, practices, and programs that provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities. The lawsuit also asks for Citgo to provide back pay and front pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

"The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants with disabilities or perceived disabilities based on the employer's unfounded fears that a person with an impairment cannot perform the essential functions of the job," said Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District Office. "It is regrettable that instead of doing an individualized assessment of whether Mr. Hudson could perform the job with or without reasonable accommodations, Citgo withdrew the offer and assumed, without further investigation whether a person with monocular vision could not perform the job."

Julianne Bowman, EEOC's district director in Chicago, added, "Citgo's decision to withdraw its employment offer based on the assumption a person with monocular vision could not perform the job is an example of the stigma people with disabilities face in the workplace. The ADA was created to combat this type of unsubstantiated fear so people with disabilities can have equal access to employment opportunities."

Read this article on the EEOC webpage here.

© Copyright U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 225

About this Author

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.

Most employers with at least 15 employees...