The operator of a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise located in Dublin, Georgia has settled a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The suit was filed in July of 2017 by the EEOC on behalf of the former manager, Cynthia Dunson, who alleged that the owner along with Hester Foods INC. (parent company of KFC) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when they fired her in the summer of 2015 after finding out she was prescribed and taking medication for bipolar disorder. The suit alleged how the owner referred to the medicine Dunson was taking in obscene terms and then forced her to destroy the pills by flushing them down the toilet. When Dunson later told the owner that she planned to continue taking the medications per her doctor’s orders, the owner told her not to return to work and fired her.
The suit was filed by the EEOC last summer after unsuccessfully trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement seeking back pay, damages, and relief to prevent any future workplace discrimination. In a news release, the EEOC announced that Hester Foods, Inc. will pay $30,000 to settle the lawsuit. According to the news release, in addition to proving damages to Dunson, the decree settling the lawsuit requires that Hester Foods create a handbook that will outline policies that will prohibit discrimination. Hester Foods is also required to provide annual equal opportunity employment training and notify it’s employees of the lawsuit and periodically report to the EEOC about complaints.
Antonette Sewell, Regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office said ” Employers are not to force workers with disabilities to choose between their jobs and their health. Reasonable accommodations include allowing workers to rely on their physicians, not on the opinions of the company managers.
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