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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director, Akia Haynes, announced today that the agency has issued a finding that there is probable cause to believe that Arcelor-Mittal USA, located in Burns Harbor, Indiana, violated the Indiana Civil Rights Law and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This charge stems from the state’s investigation finding that Arcelor-Mittal USA asked Adecco, their contracted staffing agency, to replace an African-American employee because of a hospital stay related to her documented Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“The issue before the Commission is whether the employee was meeting the employer’s legitimate business expectations prior to being hospitalized,” said Haynes. “We also have to determine how the treatment the employee in question received compares to similarly-situated non-disabled employees of another race.”
The probable cause finding issued stems from the August 27, 2012 Complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and race. According to the available evidence, the Complainant was hired by Adecco and then assigned to work as an order entry analyst with Arcelor-Mittal USA in August 2011.
Due to an ongoing conflict with a co-worker, the Complaining party’s PTSD worsened, ultimately leading to the employee’s hospitalization from July 31, 2012 through August 9, 2012. Despite multiple attempts by the Complaining party’s family to inform both Adecco and Arcelor-Mittal USA of Complainant’s condition, a request was made for someone else to perform the employee’s job duties.
While it is unclear whether Adecco or Arcelor-Mittal USA initiated the termination process and equally unclear which party formally terminated the Charging party, Arcelor-Mittal USA actively agreed that it wanted someone else to assume the employee’s duties in her absence.
“Evidence shows that Arcelor-Mittal USA failed to engage in an interactive communication process with the Charging party to determine a reasonable accommodation,” added Haynes. “Further, two non-disabled female employees of another race who held the same position as the charging party were permitted to take leaves of absence exceeding five (5) days without being terminated.”
It is important to note that a finding of probable cause does not resolve a civil rights Complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.