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EEOC sues Time Warner, Charter for firing disabled worker

On July 6, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that they would be suing Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. The two cable companies, which recently merged under the brand Spectrum, are being sued for firing a disabled employee.

The employee alleges that her disability was not accommodated and that she was fired after the company learned about her condition.

This case serves as a reminder that no matter how big or small your business may be, there’s always the risk of a discrimination lawsuit. These charges may emerge from the EEOC (15 or more employees) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (4-14 employees).

How to protect your business from charges of disability discrimination

Facing discrimination charges from either the EEOC or the PHRC can be intimidating for any business. There are things you can do to better protect yourself and your business from a discrimination lawsuit.

  • Rethink your interview questions: Employers can’t ask employees about their medical history or disabilities before making an offer. Rather than asking about someone’s physical limitations, reframe questions to ask about an applicant’s abilities to perform the essential functions of the role they’re interviewing for.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations: Employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability. The exception to this rule if it would impose a significant difficulty or expense on the employer. Flexible working hours or making the workplace more accessible for wheelchairs are common accommodations you may need to make.
  • Document everything: If an employee is simply not performing the essential functions of the task, then you may ultimately find it necessary to terminate employment. Documenting an employee’s poor performance strengthens your credibility that the employee was fired due to performance, not because of a disability.

Just because your business was charged by the EEOC doesn’t automatically mean you’ll face disciplinary consequences. Taking these charges seriously and proactively dealing with them will help your business overcome these disputes.

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