ICRC issues discrimination charge against Alcoa Aluminum

INDIANAPOLIS - Akia Haynes, Deputy Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) issued a notice of findings against Alcoa Aluminum (“Respondent”). The charge states there is probable cause to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice occurred in violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law (Ind. Code § 22-9, et seq.)

By way of background, Respondent hired Complainant as a Finish Machine Operator in the Extrusion Department on or about December 11, 1995.  At all times relevant to the Complaint, Respondent was aware of Complainant’s visual impairment and work restriction prohibiting him from operating mobile equipment.  During the course of Complainant’s tenure with Respondent, his duties included operating a gantry crane designed to move large aluminum extrusions weighing several thousand pounds.  

Despite meeting Respondent’s legitimate business expectations for over a decade without a safety violation, Respondent determined that Complainant’s job duties violated his work restrictions in June 2013.  Specifically, Respondent determined that operating the crane to move the aluminum extrusions “presented a significant risk of substantial harm to [Complainant,] his co-workers, structures, and equipment if he misjudged the object’s position and caused a collision or dropped a load.” 

Ultimately, Respondent suspended Complainant and placed him on medical leave in June 2013.  Despite Respondent’s assertions, there is insufficient evidence to support its assertions.  No evidence has been submitted by Respondent or uncovered during the course of the investigation to show that Respondent entered into the interactive dialogue process with Complainant in an attempt to preserve his employment. 

Moreover, no evidence has been submitted by Respondent or uncovered by the Commission to show that Respondent attempted to ascertain an accommodation which would have assisted Complainant in maintaining his employment.  Rather, Respondent simply placed Complainant on indefinite disability leave.  As such and based upon the aforementioned, probable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory practice occurred as alleged.

A public hearing is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law occurred as alleged.  The parties may agree to have these claims heard in the circuit or superior court in the county in which the alleged discriminatory act occurred.  However, both parties must agree to such an election and notify the Commission within twenty (20) days of receipt of this Notice, or the Commission’s Administrative Law Judge will hear this matter.