Realtor Closes Deal With EEOC in ADA Suit Arising From Firing of Breast Cancer Patient

A large commercial real estate company thought better of its prospects in court over its treatment of a female employee who was battling breast cancer. So it decided to settle the Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit for $100,000.

I wrote about this lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Cushman & Wakefield back in August of last year.

Chicago-headquartered Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm, with over 250 offices worldwide, with revenues of $5 billion. The firm operates in more than 60 countries and has over 43,000 employees.

The EEOC filed the suit on behalf of Toi Patterson, who worked for Cushman & Wakefield at its Columbia, Md., facility for nine years, first as an administrative assistant, and after a promotion, as a senior administrator.

Patterson requested medical leave for her breast cancer treatment pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act, the EEOC said. While on FMLA leave, Patterson requested, as a reasonable accommodation, to return to work on a part-time basis while she underwent treatment and advised that she might need additional unpaid leave after her surgery.

According to the EEOC, the company fired Patterson because of her disability instead of allowing her to work part-time or providing another reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to remain employed.

The $100,000 award is only the tip of the iceberg as to what the realtor will have to go through under the terms of the settlement.

The settlement also provides:

  • Cushman & Wakefield must not violate the ADA, including refusing to provide reasonable accommodations.
  • It will revise and distribute to all employees a reasonable accommodations policy, which will identify part-time and modified work schedules, as well as unpaid leave, as examples of accommodations.
  • It will provide annual ADA training to all managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel at its Columbia location, and inform all newly hired employees about its reasonable accommodation policies and the ADA.
  • The company will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

Employers run afoul of the ADA if they don’t communicate with an employee with a disability to determine what reasonable accommodation, such as a modified work schedule or unpaid leave, that would keep the individual employed without imposing an undue hardship,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.

Read more about today’s settlement here.

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