MILWAUKEE – A major financial services company, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans of Appleton, Wis., violated federal law by making public a temporary employee’s confidential medical information, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.
According to EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, whose jurisdiction includes Wisconsin, the agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit revealed that Thrivent violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) when it inquired about the employee’s medical condition and then revealed to prospective employers that he suffers from migraine headaches. Thrivent’s disclosures had a negative impact on the employee’s ability to obtain employment from those employers.
Such alleged conduct violates the ADA, which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on disabilities. The EEOC filed suit after first trying to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, in addition to an order requiring other relief and barring future discrimination. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, E.D. Wis. Civil Action No.10-C-853, was filed in federal district court in Milwaukee.
On its web site, Thrivent describes itself as “the nation’s largest fraternal benefits society” and “a faith-based, not-for-profit membership organization nearly 2.6 million members strong. [It is] a Fortune 500 financial services organization with… more than $67 billion in assets under management.” Thrivent sells life insurance and other financial products and services. It ranks 342nd on the Fortune 500 based on 2009 revenue of $6.514 billion.