09/25/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2023 06:48
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc., a company that provides administrative and operations services for a group of related automobile dealerships across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, violated federal law when it fired a longtime senior manager in its Texarkana, Texas, location to avoid its share of the employee's cancer-treatment costs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, on Feb. 11, 2020, Gregg Orr Auto fired the 65-year-old employee without prior warning and informed him that his health insurance coverage would end, effective immediately. This came just weeks after the employee received billing statements for a costly surgery the employee underwent in late 2019 to treat a serious cancer. Gregg Orr Auto maintains a self-insured health care plan that makes it directly responsible for its employees' medical expenses. The company knew that the employee's cancer treatment would generate ongoing healthcare costs, and therefore replaced him with a significantly younger worker in his mid-30s, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibit employers from discriminating based on disability or age (age 40 or older). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EEOC v. Gregg Orr Auto Collection, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:23-cv-00097) after its Birmingham District Office unsuccessfully attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief including back pay, liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
"Protecting long-term workers from the illegal effects of disability and age discrimination is an important part of the laws the EEOC enforces," said Bradley Anderson, district director of the EEOC's Birmingham District.
Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District said, "Employers must realize the ADA and ADEA prohibit using an employee's actual or perceived disability, or age, as a reason to push out a qualified worker. The EEOC will continue its efforts to eliminate age and disability discrimination, including through litigation when necessary."
For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination-and-employment-decisions. For more information on age discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/age-discrimination.
The EEOC's Birmingham District Office is charged with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws in Alabama, Mississippi (except for 17 northern counties), and the Florida Panhandle.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.