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Man rewarded job at Kaiser Aluminum’s mill and $175,000 in discrimination suit settlement

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 25, 2017, 9:31 p.m.

A Spokane man will receive $175,000 and a job at Kaiser Aluminum’s Trentwood mill under terms of a settlement in a disability discrimination lawsuit.

Kaiser and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this week announced the settlement of the suit, which alleged the company withdrew a job offer from Donald McMurray after reviewing old medical records that indicated he had a prior disability.

According to court documents, McMurray applied in July 2014 for a job as a production worker at Kaiser’s Trentwood mill and was offered a position a month later. While McMurray was having a pre-employment physical, he mentioned an injury to his foot 10 years earlier. The person performing the physical would not continue the exam without reviewing McMurray’s medical history. Upon review of his 2004-2006 medical records, Kaiser rescinded the job offer, court documents state.

However, McMurray had recovered from his injury and worked a number of construction jobs during the intervening years, according to documents.

“On the day Kaiser told me that I could not work there because of my supposed inability to walk on uneven surfaces or climb ladders at Kaiser, I was driving a 966 CAT loader that I had been climbing in and out of all day on a construction site,” McMurray said in 2016 statement issued by the EEOC.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit in September 2016 against Kaiser on behalf of McMurray, claiming the company discriminated against him because of a previous disability.

On Tuesday, the EEOC and Kaiser agreed to a settlement that provides McMurray with a production worker job at the Trentwood mill and $175,000 – $125,000 for lost wages and $50,000 in damages.

It is uncommon for an employer to offer a job to a person who had brought the suit, EEOC attorney Teri Healy said Wednesday.

“I’m pleased with the fact Kaiser will give this guy a job,” she said. “He will make a great employee.”

Under the settlement, Kaiser did not admit wrongdoing, but has agreed to change hiring policies and procedures to ensure it is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kaiser will also have to provide annual ADA training sessions for its employees and submit annual compliance reports to the EEOC for three years.

In a statement Wednesday, Kaiser said it stands by its commitment to compliance with the ADA and ensuring that its recruitment and hiring practices are inclusive. The company said it never agreed with or accepted the allegations of the EEOC, but ultimately concluded it was better to resolve the allegations than contest them in court.