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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against a pipe fittings manufacturer that allegedly refused to give unpaid leave to a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, then fired him as a result of his disability, the agency said Wednesday.
Adam Brant, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, worked as a maintenance technician at the New Castle, Pa., headquarters of Ezeflow USA, which is based in Granby, Canada, the EEOC said in a statement Wednesday.
While there, he experienced seizures later determined to be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. In December 2012, Mr. Brand provided the company's human resources representative with a note from his neurologist requesting that he be off work for six weeks and restricting him from driving, heights and working with heavy machinery during that period.
Mr. Brant requested six weeks of unpaid medical leave. The company denied the request because he was still a probationary employee, then terminated him, according to the EEOC. The company has a policy of providing up to 26 weeks of paid leave to nonprobationary employees, according to the EEOC.
The EEOC is charging Ezeflow with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, which it says prohibits employers from firing an individual because of his disability, and requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation, including granting unpaid medical leave.
“Mr. Brant served his country honorably as a Marine. Granting unpaid leave to a veteran with a disability is not only the decent thing to do — federal law requires it,” Philadelphia-based EEOC district director Spencer H. Lewis Jr. said a statement. “Unfortunately, the company refused to even consider this easy way to accommodate Mr. Brant and instead fired a qualified veteran simply because of a disability — which is counterproductive as well as unlawful and unfair. That is why this lawsuit is important to the public interest.”
A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.