Massey Services Will Pay $63,000 to Settle EEOC Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit
Pest Control and Landscaping Company Terminated and Refused to Rehire Employee With Disability After Denying Her Request for Leave as Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Pest control and landscaping company Massey Services, Inc. will pay $63,000 and provide other significant relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that the company violated federal law when it denied an employee's request for medical leave, fired her after learning of her medical condition, and subsequently failed to rehire her for the position that she previously held that remained vacant.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Massey denied former employee Annie Mitchell's request for leave after she became hospitalized due to her disability and instead discharged her from her position. The EEOC's suit further alleges that Massey actively recruited other candidates for Mitchell's office manager position and refused to rehire Mitchell - even though she sought to return to her prior job - in retaliation for her accommodation request, said the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Massey Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00263) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to paying $63,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Massey from violating the ADA in the future and requires it to report to the EEOC on its compliance with the decree, including how it handles any future discrimination or retaliation complaints. Massey will modify its policies and make exceptions to any leave provisions by providing unpaid medical leave as a form of reasonable accommodation. The company will provide training on the ADA, with an emphasis on its obligations to provide reasonable accommodations and not to retaliate against employees who request those accommodations.
"This is a meaningful settlement," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "In addition to providing just compensation to Ms. Mitchell, the decree will serve as a reminder to employers that they have an obligation to make policy or practice exceptions and provide leave as a form of reasonable accommodation unless doing so would result in an undue hardship."
EEOC Atlanta District Director Darrell E. Graham added, "The ADA requires employers to assess each employee's request for an accommodation on an individualized basis, rather than having blanket policies that apply across the board."
Orlando, Fla.-based Massey Services, Inc. operates service centers throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma.