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Manufacturer must develop policies, provide training to resolve allegations that it fired employee for not calling in every day he was hospitalized

Applied Vacuum Technology (AVT), a Waconia, Minnesota-based company that manufactures vacuum hardware, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of an employee who was allegedly fired when he sought to return to work after being hospitalized for a week.

According to the EEOC’s suit, AVT knew about the employee’s hospitalization and condition. It fired him for failing to call in every day of the hospitalization. The agency contended that the company violated the ADA when it fired the employee because it regarded him as having a disability.

The five-year consent decree settling the suit requires AVT to pay the employee $50,000 and provides assurances the company will make its workplace policies clear to its employees and provide training on them. Within six months of entry of the decree, AVT must prepare an employee handbook containing its workplace policies, which will include a policy on the consequences of not reporting into work daily; on workplace discrimination and harassment; and on requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The company will call an all-employee meeting to explain the policies in the handbook. It will also train all of its personnel on the law against discrimination on the basis of disability and against retaliation; this training will be introduced by its president or chief executive officer.

“Many of the cases that we see can be avoided with some simple training and straightforward policies for managers and employees,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson in an April 16 statement. “More than anything, we think that the provisions in this decree relating to the development of an employee handbook and training on the employer’s policies will have a long-term benefit for both AVT and its employees.”

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the District of Minnesota. The case number is 12-cv-02473 SRN/FLN.