Hiland Dairy sued for discrimination against man who is visually impaired

(Hiland Dairy)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 12:14 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A lawsuit has been brought up against Hiland Dairy for refusing employment to a man who needed reasonable accommodations for his vision impairment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it has filed a lawsuit against Missouri-based Hiland Dairy Foods on Thursday for violating federal law when it refused to hire a man to work in its Norman, Okla., plant due to his vision impairment.

According to the suit, Hiland interviewed the man, toured the plant with him and was aware of his vision impairment before it offered him a position conditioned on a pre-employment medical exam. It said the doctor responsible for giving the exam disqualified him, deeming him a “safety concern” despite never having given him an exam. Neither Hiland nor the doctor considered any active accommodations device or other reasonable accomodations that could mitigate these safety concerns. It said Hiland withdrew the job offer.

The EEOC said such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. It said the suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and charges that Hiland violated the ADA by refusing to hire the applicant due to his disability because he required reasonable accommodation. It said it wants monetary relief and instatement for the applicant an order prohibiting future discrimination against others with disabilities and other relief.

“The purpose of Title I of the ADA is to ensure people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to work to their full ability, unencumbered by myths, fears and stereotypes related to their conditions,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis. “Millions of American workers with vision impairments successfully perform a wide range of jobs, and everyone is entitled to that oppor­tunity.”         

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, added, “Vision impairments are as diverse as individuals, and assistive devices can be technologically advanced or as simple as a plastic magnifier. Employers must take the time to individually assess a worker’s ability to perform essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation.”         

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