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A steel castings manufacturer has agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission class disability discrimination lawsuit for allegedly rejecting job applicants based on a carpal tunnel syndrome test.
The EEOC said in its statement Tuesday that Chicago-based Amsted Rail Co. had disqualified job applicants based on the result of a nerve conduction test for carpal tunnel syndrome rather than conducting an individualized assessment of each applicant’s ability to do the job safely.
The EEOC had filed suit in U.S. District Court in Benton, Illinois, in 2014 on behalf of applicants who sought work as “chippers,” who use a hammer or grinder to remove metal protrusions from steel castings, in the company’s Granite City, Illinois, facility.
In a November 2017 ruling, the court said the company’s use of the nerve conduction test was unlawful, finding that it had little or no value in predicting the likelihood of future injury, the EEOC said.
Under the consent decree approved by the court, Amsted Rail will provide lost wages and compensatory damages to 40 applicants who were denied employment opportunities because of the company’s hiring practices, the EEOC said.
The company will also make job offers to some of the applicants and adopt policies that will prevent similar discriminatory practices in the future, the EEOC said.
"While it is lawful under some circumstances for employers to conduct limited medical exams after making conditional offers to job applicants, it is not 'anything goes'," Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC's St Louis District Office, said in the statement. "If workers are concerned about whether a particular medical exam is lawful or necessary, they should ask questions and seek legal advice if necessary."
Amsted Rail said in a statement that it “affords its prospective and current employees all of the rights and protections of the law. Its post-offer process of identifying applicants with a propensity of developing carpel tunnel was implemented to reduce work-related injuries. The EEOC took exception to the process challenging its productiveness and concluding that it violated the ADA. Amsted Rail agreed to discontinue the process and compensate affected applicants for lost wages. Amsted Rail further agreed to conduct training and allow the EEOC to monitor hiring to assure compliance with the ADA."
New York City and Westchester County’s electricity and gas utility, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., will pay $800,000 to resolve a disability discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said Wednesday.