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EEOC Sues Agri-AFC for Disability Discrimination

March 27, 2020
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Company Fired Employee After Learning of His Pre-Existing Back Condition, Federal Agency Charges

Agri-AFC, LLC, a Poplarville, Mississippi, agriculture retailer, violated federal law when it fired an employee with a pre-existing back condition, the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor¬tunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee worked at Agri-AFC’s Poplarville facility as a driver / warehouse worker. When Agri-AFC’s district manager learned that the employee was taking medication for a back injury he had suffered during military service, Agri-AFC demanded a list of his medications. Less than a week after he provided the list, Agri-AFC fired him and told him the district manager felt he was a liability to the company because of his back injury and feared he would injure himself further, the EEOC said.

Agri-AFC’s alleged conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals who are actually disabled, regarded as disabled or have a record of disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Agri-AFC, LLC; Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-114-LG-RHW in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Employers should remember that the ADA provides protections to many applicants and employees who take prescription medication and limits the rights of employers to inquire about such use," said Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office. "Further, the ADA prohibits employers from taking action against such individuals based on assumptions or fears that they will be liabilities instead of assets."

Bradley Anderson, district director of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, added, "As we approach the 30th anniversary of the ADA’s passage, by pursuing actions such as this, the EEOC continues to carry out Congress’s clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against persons with disabilities and to play a key role in enforcing the ADA’s requirements."

Agri-AFC, headquartered in Decatur, Alabama, currently employs over 300 people with fertilizer terminals, warehouses, a cotton gin and 30 retail operations located throughout Alabama, Southwest Georgia, Southern Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ¬ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

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