Employer Settles ADA Associational Bias Case

Discriminating against an employee because of his or her association with a person with disabilities is just as much a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act as if the bias were directed against the employee because of his or her disability.

So it was a good call by New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates, P.C. (NMOA), which owns and operates a medical facility in Albuquerque, to settle an ADA associational bias lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the EEOC, NMOA violated the ADA by firing Melissa Yalch Valencia, a temporary staffing agency employee, and failing to hire her for a full-time position because of her relationship with her then three-year old daughter, who had disabilities or was regarded as disabled.

Rather than fight the lawsuit in court, NMOA decided to settle the litigation for $165,000.

Here’s the EEOC’s September 1 announcement of the settlement.

And as stated on the EEOC’s disability discrimination web page:

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

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