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Tyson Foods settles disability discrimination claim

Food processing giant Tyson Foods settled a disability discrimination lawsuit last week, agreeing to new procedures to protect potential hires from similar discrimination. The man who filed the complaint with the EEOC has epilepsy and alleged that he was unfairly turned down for a maintenance position. He had been employed by Tyson in the past and his condition was not a problem.

Tyson says the problem was in the medical evaluation process that they institute for new hires. The doctor who evaluated the man in this case did not actually examine him and may have relied on outdated research in judgment that the man could not perform the job safely.

Along with compensatory damages for lost wages, Tyson is also changing their policies regarding the medical evaluation. Where there has been a one step medical assessment in the past, there will now be three opportunities for applicants to be assessed.

"The potentially three-step medical assessment process agreed to by the parties is an extraordinary step in the right direction in terms of making sure disabled employees are given a full and fair opportunity to compete in the workplace," said an EEOC attorney.

Disability discrimination can take many forms. Often, employers will refuse to hire a disabled worker even if their impairment does not limit their ability to do the job properly. There are also issues with reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and some employees might not assert their right to those accommodations for fear of being fired. If you think that you or someone you know has been discriminated against because of a disability, contact an attorney to find out what your options are.

Source: Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "Tyson Foods Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit," Feb. 23, 2012.

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