Hospital, Poultry Company Settle ADA Lawsuits Alleging Employees Were Denied Medical Leave

Two settlements of ADA lawsuit announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this week have one thing in common: In each case, the employer turned down the employee’s request for additional leave for treatment of a medical condition.

One case involves Emory Healthcare, Inc., which operates Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM) in Atlanta. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a nurse technician who had undergone emergency surgery  sought an accommodation of unpaid medical leave so that he could complete the necessary treatment and then return to his position. Emory, however, refused to provide the additional medical leave as an accommodation, and fired the technician instead, the EEOC charged.

Emory settled that case for $15,000. The settlement also requires the hospital to revise its medical leave policies, and provide annual training on the ADA and medical leave requests to all employees responsible for approving medical leave requests.

The other suit was filed against Harrison Poultry, Inc., a poultry hatchery located in Bethlehem, Ga. In that case the EEOC alleged the company violated the ADA when it failed to provide a manager with a reasonable accommodation for his disability and then fired him. According to the complaint, in July 2012, the manager requested a seven-day extension to his previously approved vacation leave to comply with his doctor’s orders restricting him from working during that time. EEOC charged that instead of granting the manager’s request for additional medical leave, the company immediately fired him, before he even exhausted his vacation time.

This case is settling for $100,000.

Detect a common theme here? The employers’ miserly approach to granting additional medical leave came back to bite it and put it in a disadvantageous posture had the case gone to court.

Confused or uncertain about ADA leave requirements? The EEOC has a thorough web page devoted to removing the confusion and uncertainty: Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans With Disabilities Act. I suggest you check it out.

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