Illinois employee

The Illinois employee was “successful in her role” before she was fired, authorities said.

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The home warranty dispatcher said she trusted her supervisor about a panic attackand how she was prescribed new medication for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was fired because of that information, according to federal authorities.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Illinois-based Pivotal Home Solutions in September 2021, according to court filings.

According to a press release dated October 13, the home warranty company agreed to settle the lawsuit.

In the settlement, Pivotal will pay the former employee $175,000, authorities said.

“During the preliminary investigation of this allegation, the EEOC found that the employee was terminated because of her disability in violation of the (Americans with Disabilities Act),” Juliana Bowman, regional director of the EEOC’s Chicago office, said in a statement.

An attorney representing Naperville-headquartered Pivotal Home Solutions did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ Oct. 13 request for comment.

“Succeeded in her role”

According to the complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois, the employee began working with Pivotal in July 2017 through a staffing firm. Her employment with the company “was open-ended and did not last for a specific period.”

In January 2018, while still employed by Pivotal, prosecutors said she qualified as disabled under the ADA. She was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety.

On Jan. 23, 2018, she told her boss about her panic attack and new medication, the lawsuit says.

The next day, prosecutors said her manager contacted the staffing company and he “instructed them to terminate her assignment because (she) had a nervous breakdown.”

“In two phone calls documented by the staffing company, the supervisor noted that the employee had no performance issues, but he still wanted to separate her because he believed the environment was too stressful for her,” authorities said.

The staffing company told the manager she was at risk of being fired because of a non-performance-related medical condition, but he insisted on terminating her appointment, according to the lawsuit.

Then the employee was fired.

“Hiring employees through a staffing company is not a blank check to discriminate against them because of their disability,” Bowman said in a statement. “The ADA protects employees hired through staffing companies just as it protects permanent employees.”

During the employee’s employment at Pivotal, authorities said, “she was successful in her role, received no negative reviews, and was told that she would likely be hired directly by Pivotal rather than through a staffing agency.”

Under the three-year consent decree, Pivotal will be required to update its non-discrimination policy and provide annual training to managers and all human resources employees, according to a news release. The Company is also prohibited from discriminating against or retaliating against any employee because of a disability.

“People with mental health disorders often face unfair stereotypes in the workplace. They are treated as fragile or incompetent, regardless of how successfully they perform their role,” Gregory Gachanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago office, said in a release. “In this case, Pivotal punished a good employee for doing nothing but telling her supervisor about her condition.

“This resolution helped restore justice for this employee and will likely force Pivotal and other employers to comply with the law and respect the rights of their employees with disabilities, including temporary employees,” he continued.

Caitlin Alanis is a reporter for McClatchy National Real-Time who lives in Kansas. She is a graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in Agricultural Communications and Journalism.