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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc., alleging that they terminated a woman with a prosthetic leg because of her disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Staffmark had assigned Dorothy Shanks to work on a temporary job for Sony at a facility in Romeoville, Ill., where workers package, inspect and ship Sony, according to the EEOC. However, a Staffmark employee told Shanks on her second day at work that she was being removed from her assignment because they did not want anyone bumping into her. The Staffmark employee also indicated the company would find Shanks another assignment where she could sit. The EEOC reports Staffmark never sent Shanks to work on any other job assignments even though Shanks repeatedly called the company seeking work.
“Staffing agencies cannot avoid liability for discrimination by saying they were just following an employer-client’s orders, nor can employers avoid liability by saying the victim was ‘really employed’ by their staffing agency,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago. “It’s a pretty good bet that a worker with a prosthetic leg is always going to be protected by the ADA, and an equally good bet that flat-out firing the worker for that reason is going to violate the law. This scenario should not be all that difficult for employers to avoid. If they don’t, the EEOC will be there to make things right.”