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Cooper Machine Company Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Company Fired Employee Because of Her Disability Federal Agency Charged

ATLANTA - Cooper Machine Company, Inc., a Wadley, Ga., company that sells and manu­factures equipment used in the sawmill industry, violated federal law by firing an employee because of her disability, anxiety disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee, who worked for the company as a purchasing agent, was terminated by the company's chief financial officer after informing the company that she was required to take medication because of her disability. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Cooper Machine Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00085-JRH-BKE) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensa­tory damages, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimin­ation in the future.

"Federal law does not allow employers to terminate an employee merely because the employer believes there are 'medical issues,'" said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC's Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, "The company directly told the employee why it was terminating her and gave her a written document stating their reason. Such a termination is illegal and has been illegal since the ADA was passed."