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Stanley Black & Decker denies EEOC allegations in lawsuit

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. denies allegations that it failed to make reasonable accommodations for an employee seeking cancer treatment and fired in her violation of federal law, according to a recent filing.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Stanley Black & Decker in August alleging the company fired a sales representative in its Towson facility for poor attendance even though she exceeded her sales goals and quotas, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

In March 2016, the woman told her supervisor that she had been treated for cancer previously and would have follow-up doctor appointments throughout the year, the lawsuit states. In October 2016, the employee needed more leave to get a biopsy and was told she was not eligible for medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act because she had not worked at the company long enough, the lawsuit states.

The woman was fired two months later, even though her absences were related to her cancer treatment and she had requested accommodations in advance, the lawsuit states. The EEOC also alleges the company did not follow its discipline policy by not first giving her a written warning as the attendance policy requires, the lawsuit states.

In its response to the lawsuit, Stanley Black & Decker states the employee was absent in July and October 2016 but her doctor’s notes did not state she was being treated for cancer, according to a court filing on Friday.

The company also admits that the employee was not eligible for medical leave under FMLA because she had been employed with Stanley Black & Decker for less than a year. Instead, the company asked her to look into getting short term disability benefits, the filing states.

Stanley Black & Decker also argues that the EEOC is barred from making a claim because its actions related to the woman’s employment were made for “legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory, non-pretextual reasons,” and there is no basis for a claim, the filing states.

The EEOC alleges Stanley Black & Decker’s actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees.

“Employers can run afoul of the ADA if they have a rigid attendance policy that penalizes employees taking leave as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence in a statement after the lawsuit was filed. Lawrence did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The case is EEOC v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., No. 1:18-cv-02525.


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