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Sep-26-2007 05:46printcomments

Longview Fibre Sued for Disability Discrimination‏

The agency says the paper and packaging company refused to hire applicant because of a spinal injury.

ADA
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(SEATTLE) - One of the nation's largest pulp and paper manufacturers violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a suit it filed Tuesday. The suit charges that Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc. withdrew an offer of employment for an engineer aide position when it discovered the applicant had a disability.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of Scott Harshbarger, who suffered a spinal injury several years ago. Longview Fibre initially found Harshbarger qualified for the engineer aide position and offered him the job. However, after learning of his injury and method for pain control, the offer was rescinded, despite the fact that neither Harshbarger's injury nor his medication affected his ability to carry out his duties.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (Case No. C07-5510JKA) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The agency seeks monetary damages on behalf of Harshbarger, an offer of employment, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site and other injunctive relief.

"Mr. Harshbarger was denied the opportunity to be a productive member of the company's work force, even though the company itself found that he had the skills to perform the job, and the qualifications to merit the position," said Joan Ehrlich, director of the EEOC's San Francisco District Office, which will oversee the case. "Mr. Harshbarger should have been given the same opportunities as others, and not denied the chance to make a living because of management's stereotypes and unfounded fears."

William Tamayo, the EEOC's regional attorney, said, "This case is a reminder to employers that they have a responsibility to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace whenever possible. By withdrawing Mr. Harshbarger's offer of employment, Longview Fiber not only missed an opportunity to add a skilled employee to its team, it also missed an opportunity to advance the goals of the ADA."

Longview Fibre, based in Longview, Wash., owns and manages softwood timberlands predominantly located in western Washington and Oregon, and manufactures specialty paper and containers. The company has one of the largest pulp-paper mills in North America, as well as manufacturing facilities in Utah, Washington, California and Idaho.

The EEOC enforces federal laws in the private and federal sectors prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at eeoc.gov.

Source: EEOC




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