Ridiculed At Work For Her Disability: EEOC

Workplace harassment is not limited to sexual or racial categories, although those are the most common. A new lawsuit by the EEOC shows how cruel people can be – ridiculing a disabled worker because of her disability.

A Michigan egg producer was sued for hostile work environment and retaliation by the EEOC on behalf of a line worker (the EEOC does not say in its press release but it appears that she was/is suffering from a disabling digestive tract or genitourinary condition).

What was the hostile work environment?

It is alleged that: when “her supervisor learned about her disability-related symptoms, she was mocked on a weekly basis by her co-workers and supervisor because of those symptoms.”

This is the workplace, folks, not second grade.  And even second graders are taught better.

When she complained “about the mocking nicknames and physical imitation of her symptoms,” not only was nothing done, but the harassment got worse.

“The supervisor began to follow [her] to the bathroom to time her breaks. …[and] after her supervisor followed her into the bathroom and shouted at her, [she] again complained … [and] [f]inding the return to the same work environment unbearable, [she] quit her job.”

If this leaves you speechless, it did so too to the EEOC trial attorney who was left to state the obvious: “An employer cannot condone a work environment where an employee with an impairment is ridiculed because of it. It must step in to stop such behavior.”

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]