Utility company Georgia Power has settled a workplace illnesses discrimination complaint filed by some 24 former employees or job applicants.
The settlement reached is worth $1.6 million and was announced back in November.
The complaint was filed against Georgia Power because the employees and job applications claim they were fired or denied jobs due to their disabilities or illnesses.
Georgia Power, headquartered in Atlanta, was told it violated the law because the company ignored the opinions of physicians and some of its own occupational therapists, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Mickey Simmons, a former meter reader for Georgia Power, was put on leave when he suffered kidney issues. Simmons needed dialysis after suffering kidney failure.
According to the EEOC, Simmons was cleared by his physician to return to work, but when he did so, he was fired by Georgia Power.
A lawsuit was filed back in 2013 in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta against Georgia Power.
The lawsuit detailed an intern who suffered a traumatic brain injury who was able to work using medication; a senior draftsman who was able to work despite having an eye condition; and an operator of equipment who suffered from seizures that could be controlled by medication.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC said that all of the aforementioned employees lost their jobs over their disabilities.
“An employer cannot refuse to hire or return an employee with a disability to work without doing an individualized assessment of that person and determining whether the employee or applicant can perform the job with or without a reasonable accommodation,” EEOC District Director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough said.
Georgia Power has denied the discrimination, but agreed to make policy changes as recommended by the EEOC.
The settlement is being paid to former employees and job seekers for lost wages and other unspecified damages.
The EEOC said that none of the former employees are seeking a return to employment with Georgia Power.
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Source: The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Georgia Power pays $1.6 million to settle discrimination complaint,” Russell Grantham, Dec. 06, 2016