The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing an Eden Prairie company for violating the Disabilities Act by firing an employee who needed crutches, according to a statement on the EEOC's website.
The company, Employer Solutions Group, contended that firing the employee, Shannon Enstad, was justified in a statement to Fox 9 and called the EEOC's statement a "gross mischaracterization" of events.
The EEOC's statement says Enstad was unfairly fired after she asked for accommodations because she was using temporary crutches after surgery to repair her ACL. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal to fire an employee because of a real or perceived disability, or because the employee requested a "reasonable accommodation," the EEOC's statement says.
"The issue here was so minor," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the Chicago district office, in the statement. "This employee needed to use crutches for a short time after returning from short-term disability leave. The employer fired her for it, which was inappropriate, short-sighted and unlawful."
However, Employer Solutions Group's statement told a different story: That Enstad repeatedly delayed her return to work after a fall and received a paycheck from the company's disability insurance for 12 weeks after only working at the company for 30 days.
Shortly after Enstad came to work for the company as an account manager in January 2018, she called saying she'd fallen at home and couldn't come to work, the statement to Fox 9 says. The company ended her probationary period and made her a full-time employee to give her disability insurance in case the fall was serious. Enstad gave Employer Solutions Group five different dates when she would return to work but never did, the statement to Fox 9 says, and she was on disability insurance for 12 weeks after working for the company for 30 days. The company alleges it fired her on April 30, 2018, and received a doctor's note about Enstad's accommodations two days later.
"We needed an employee to do the job and Ms. Enstad was proving to not be reliable in showing up to work on each agreed return date," the statement to Fox 9 says.
The statement by Employer Solutions Group says the company offered Enstad her position back before the EEOC filed the lawsuit.