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EEOC sues TrueBlue for disability discrimination

Closeup of gavel in court room

TrueBlue, Inc., a Tacoma, Washington-based staffing company with branch offices nationwide, violated federal law by discriminating against an employee based on her disability at the Manassas, Virginia, office of its subsidiary, PeopleReady, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee worked as a marketing coordinator and needed to take leave due to a psychiatric disability.  TrueBlue denied the employee’s request and fired her when she was medically cleared to return to work after a hospitalization. The suit further alleges that workplace comments were made describing the employee as a “problem child” and stating that she was going to the “loony bin,” in reference to her need for in-patient care.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s disability. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 21-cv-01098) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking monetary relief, including back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future disability discrimination.

“It is an employer’s responsibility to know their obligations under the ADA,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The EEOC will stand up for victims of job discrimination.”

Mindy E. Weinstein, director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office, said, “Regardless of an employee’s visible or invisible disability, employers must comply with federal protections for persons with disabilities.”

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office investigates discrimination charges and prosecutes cases arising out of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, parts of New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

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