EEOC Recovers $50K for Nurse Fired After Becoming Disabled During Her Pregnancy

Female employees who develop disabilities during their pregnancy must be reasonably accommodated.

That’s the message from an announcement by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a nursing center that fired a female employee who became disabled while pregnant will pay $50,000 to settle the agency’s pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit.

According to the EEOC, the female employee, a licensed practical nurse at a Clinton, South Carolina facility run by  NHC Healthcare/Clinton, LLC, suffers from paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), which, without medication, can cause rapid heart rate, numbness in the extremities, tunnel vision and occasional blackouts.  The condition, which NHC was aware of, was controlled by medication.

When she learned she was pregnant and stopped taking her PSVT medicine due to possible side effects to her unborn child, her symptoms became uncon­trolled.  The condition also exacerbated her normal pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue and nausea, were exacer­bated by her PSVT.

Due to her medical condition and pregnancy, the employee was placed on bed rest and was out for three work days in early January 2013.  That same month she was fired by the director of nursing because of absences related to her pregnancy and PSVT.

EEOC said NHC Healthcare refused to accommodate the female employee by allowing her medical leave and subsequently firing her because of her disability and pregnancy.

“This settlement should remind employers that federal law protects pregnant workers who develop a disability during pregnancy,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.  “All employers should implement effective anti-discrimination policies, procedures and training to ensure proper protections for pregnant employees.”

Here’s the EEOC’s January 25 announcement of the settlement.


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