In the first lawsuit ever filed by the EEOC alleging genetic discrimination, an employer will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief for refusing to hire a woman with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The EEOC had charged that the Tulsa-based company, one of the world's largest distributors of decorative fabric, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire a woman for the position of memo clerk because it regarded her as having carpal tunnel syndrome, and violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) when it asked for her family medical history in its post-offer medical examination.

According to the suit, the woman worked in a temporary position as a memo clerk for 90 days. When her temporary assignment was coming to an end, she applied for a permanent job in that position. The company made an offer of permanent employment and sent her for a pre-employment drug test and physical. When the temp reported for her physical, she was required to fill out a questionnaire and disclose the existence of numerous separately listed disorders in her family medical history. She was then subjected to medical testing, from which the examiner concluded that further evaluation was needed to determine whether she suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

The company told her she needed to be evaluated for CTS by her personal physician and to provide the company with the results. Her physician gave her a battery of tests and concluded that she did not have CTS. Although she provided this information to the company, it rescinded its job offer because the first lab indicated that she did have CTS. She made a written request for reconsideration, emphasizing that she does not have CTS, but the company ignored he request.

The EEOC first attempted to settle the matter through its conciliation process before filing suit in federal court. In addition to the $50,000 payment, the company has agreed to take steps to prevent future discrimination, including the posting of an anti-discrimination notice to employees, dissemination of anti-discrimination policies to employees, and providing anti-discrimination training to employees with hiring responsibilities.

More information about GINA