A Minnesota company is being sued by the federal government, which claims it fired an employee because she needed crutches after surgery.
The lawsuit has been filed by the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission against Employer Solutions Group, a payroll services company based in Eden Prairie.
The EEOC claims the company violated federal law by firing 38-year-old Shannon Enstad, of Mound, because she needed crutches after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL.
"The EEOC charged that ESG discriminated against the employee based on her actual and perceived disability, and in retaliation for her request to work with crutches," the EEOC said in a statement.
Firing the employee violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, the agency says, with its lawsuit filed in the District Court of Minnesota after first trying to reach a settlement with the company.
"The issue here was so minor," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC Chicago office. "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."
Greg Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC Chicago district, added: "Employers must remember that even relatively short-termed impairments can be recognized as disabilities under the law if they are sufficiently severe, which they were here."
In the EEOC wins the lawsuit, it would see Employer Solutions Group have to implement changes to workplace policy, give the employee back pay and benefits, and give her her job back.
ESG has called into question some of the claims EEOC made in the lawsuit, telling the Star Tribune that they fired Enstad for, among other reasons, changing her mind at least twice about the date she'd be returning to work.
It also says they didn't get a doctor's note from her regarding her ACL injury until days after she was fired.