EEOC Recovers $145K for Rehab Center Employee Fired While on Medical Leave

Another employer finds itself on the hook with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because it allegedly failed to offer a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a medical condition.

The commission announced yesterday that it has settled an ADA lawsuit against  Paloma Blanca Health Care Associates, LLC, d/b/a Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, which owns and operates a health and rehabilitation center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to the suit, the center failed to reasonably accommodate an employee who was on FMLA leave for several medical conditions when it notified him that his job had been eliminated during a “reduction in force.”

Except that there was no reduction in force, the EEOC said, since no one else was RIF-ed and there were no facility or department-wide layoffs at the time of his discharge.

The center agreed to pay $145,000 to settle the lawsuit and to train its personnel on handling reasonable accommodation requests, the EEOC announced.

“Employers must address employee requests for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities and must assure that employment decisions are not based on them,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.  “They must comply with federal law or be subjected to the EEOC’s vigorous enforcement of the rights of the disabled to fair treatment under the law.  One would hope that a health and rehab center in particular would be more sensitive and attentive to the rights and needs of employees with medical conditions.”

Read more about the lawsuit and the settlement.

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