Posts Tagged ‘denial of reasonable accommodation’

EEOC: Air Service Company Suspended Employee Because of Medical Conditions

Employees that have health battles shouldn’t have to fight for a reasonable accommodation from their employer.

ABM Aviation, Inc., formerly Air Serv Corporation, an aviation industry cleaning and services provider at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., violated federal law when it denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and terminated her employment due to her disabilities, cardiomyopathy and acute myeloid leukemia, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC further alleged that ABM discriminated against the employee when it suspended her for absences related to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. ABM Aviation, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-957-SCJ JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“ABM recklessly disregarded the federally protected rights of this employee to earn a living and provide for her family given a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to honor anti-discrimination laws if we are to see significant, long-term change in the way society views individuals with disabilities and the value they add to the workforce.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Supporting the medical needs of their employees to allow reasonable accommodations of disabilities should be a top priority for all employers not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.”

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EEOC: Employer Violated ADA in Refusing Employee More Time Off for Medical Recovery

Employers that take a my-way-or-the-highway stance toward employees who need a little more time off to recover from illness or surgery stand a good chance of being sued over their decisionmaking. A North Carolina company now faces a summons from the federal government to appear in court and answer for its behavior.

Heritage Home Group, LLC (Heritage Home), a North Carolina corporation that designs, manufactures, sources and retails home furnishings, violated federal law when it denied a reasonable accommodation to one of its employees and then fired him, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Jan. 31.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Heritage Home hired Michael Woods to work as a machine operator at its Hickory Chair Company manufacturing plant in Hickory, N.C., in October 2015. Woods, a diabetic, developed an infection in one of his toes in March 2016. Woods underwent an operation to have the toe amputated, and was subsequently diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in both feet. The EEOC said that around April 8, 2016, Woods, who was out of work on short-term disability leave, informed Heritage Home of his anticipated return to work the first week of June, since he needed the additional leave to recover fully. In a letter dated April 29, 2016, Heritage Home informed Woods that it was terminating his employment because he would not be able to return to work until then.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division (EEOC v. Heritage Home Group, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-00018) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“The obligation to accommodate an employee with a disability so that he or she can retain the job is a fundamental aspect of the ADA,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers must be careful to give employees a fair chance to make a full recovery from disability-related conditions and return to productive work when the company can do so without undue hardship.”

$85K Settlement Closes EEOC’s ADA Suit Against Miss. Health Care Services Firm

Failure to grant a health care worker additional leave to recover from surgery came back to haunt this employer.

Pioneer Health Services, Inc., a Mississippi corporation that provides inpatient and outpatient health care services, has agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Jan. 10.

According to the EEOC’s suit, in July 2012, Joyce Dumas, who worked for Pioneer as a social worker/therapist, became ill and was hospitalized due to liver failure. She requested leave while she underwent liver transplant surgery, and Pioneer approved the request. After successful transplant surgery on Aug. 2, 2012, she was slated to return to work in mid-September. However, when Dumas requested several weeks additional leave to recover from the surgery, Pioneer denied the request and subsequently fired her because she had exhausted her company-approved leave. Further, Pioneer refused to re-hire Dumas for an available social worker/therapist position several months later.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability, unless the employer would suffer an undue hardship as a result. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00016-GHD-DAS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Aberdeen Division on Feb. 3, 2017 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the five-year consent decree settling the suit requires Pioneer to provide training to its employees on its obligations under the ADA and review its anti-discrimination policies and modify them if necessary, and enjoins the company from engaging in any discrimination or retaliation because of disability in the future. The decree also requires Pioneer to assign a senior company official, trained in the requirements of the ADA, the responsibility of providing written recommendations to Pioneer’s management before terminating any employee based on his or her actual, perceived, or record of a physical or mental impairment, or for exhaustion of medical leave.

“The intersection of the ADA and Family and Medical Leave Act will continue to be an area of focus for the EEOC,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, the EEOC’s Birmingham District director who oversaw the agency’s investigation. “We are pleased that Pioneer has agreed to implement training and revise its anti-discrimination policies.”

Marsha L. Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, added, “Employers should understand that they cannot simply fire an employee with a disability once she has exhausted her allotted 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Rather, the ADA requires the employer to determine whether that employee can be accommodated by a brief extension of leave that would enable the employee to return to work.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction over Alabama, Mississippi (all but 17 counties in the northern part of Mississippi), and the Florida Panhandle.

ADA Settlement Yields $38K for Ex-Phlebotomist

A health care staffing agency might rue the way it handled the case of a phlebotomist who sought an accommodation due to pregnancy-related accommodations.

Dependable Health Services Inc., a health care staffing agency, will pay $38,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC, the federal agency announced Dec. 22.

According to the suit, Sheena Berry began working as a phlebotomist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., in March 2016 and continued employment with Dependable Health Services when the company acquired the medical services contract at Walter Reed. Berry requested a reasonable accommodation of not staffing mobile blood drives due to sickle-cell anemia-related pregnancy complications. Dependable Health Services initially refused to provide the accommodation but later did so by temporarily transferring Berry to the out-patient phlebotomy department, EEOC said.

While on maternity leave, Berry provided several status updates to Dependable Health Services. Berry requested a permanent reasonable accommodation reassignment to a position that did not require mobile blood drive staffing. EEOC charged that on February 24, 2017, Berry informed Dependable Health Services of her planned return to work on February 28, 2017. Dependable Health Services abruptly terminated Berry effective February 27, 2017 stating a decision “to have [Berry’s] position backfilled effective immediately.”

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations unless the employer can prove it would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Dependable Health Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-02316) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $38,000 in monetary relief, Berry will receive a favorable letter of recommendation. The five-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Dependable Health Services from violating the ADA, including refusal to provide reasonable accommodations. The owner of Dependable Health Services will distribute a memorandum to all employees emphasizing a commitment to ADA compliance, along with a copy of the company’s revised reasonable accommodations policy. It will also provide ADA training to all managers, supervisors and human resources employees. Dependable Health Services will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

“We are pleased Dependable Health Services worked with us to resolve this matter amicably,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “In addition to the monetary relief to Ms. Berry, this settlement provides substantial equitable measures to protect all employees and applicants from disability discrimination.”

District Director Kevin Berry added, “Firing an employee is never a good response to a reasonable accommodation request. This settlement should encourage all employers to engage in the interactive process to keep qualified individuals with disabilities working, including reassignment to a vacant position if necessary.”

Employer Pays $25K to Settle EEOC Suit Alleging It Discriminated Against Worker Who Was Bipolar

A home healthcare company recently settled an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of an employee who had bipolar disorder.

AccentCare, Inc., a home healthcare company headquartered in Dallas, has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Friday. The EEOC charged in its suit that AccentCare discriminated against an employee with bipolar disorder.

According to the EEOC’s suit, an AccentCare IT analyst informed the company that she has bipolar disorder and requested leave in order to see her health care provider. The EEOC further said that upon learning of the employee’s disability and receiving her request for leave, AccentCare fired her within one day, without giving proper consideration to her request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ disabilities as long as it does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-03157) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the case, AccentCare, Inc. will pay $25,000 in monetary relief to the former IT analyst. AccentCare also agreed to post a notice about the settlement, and to provide training for employees on the ADA to include instruction on the specific provisions of the reasonable accommodation process. The training will include an instruction advising managers and supervisors of the potential consequences for violations of the ADA. Additionally, AccentCare has agreed to document complaints of disability discrimination and report to the EEOC.

“It has always been our contention that AccentCare demonstrated a reckless disregard for the federally protected rights of this valuable employee, rather than carefully considering her request for leave to see her doctor,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “We would expect that employers in the health care field would be keenly aware of the importance of supporting the medical needs of their employees by allowing reasonable time that may be required for treatment. We are pleased with the resolution of this case.”

Pregnant Employee Was Denied Accommodation for Disability, EEOC Alleges in Latest ADA Suit

This is the season for ADA violations, or alleged ones, if the recent deluge of disability discrimination lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is any indication.

Halo Unlimited, Inc., dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, a Corona, Calif.-based company, violated federal law when it denied an accommodation to a pregnant employee with a disability, the EEOC announced in a lawsuit filed last Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an infant screening technician assigned to a hospital in El Centro, Calif., was denied an accommodation for her disability by Halo Unlimited. Instead, the EEOC contends that the company fired the pregnant employee within days of learning of her disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Halo Unlimited, Inc. dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, Case No. 3:17-cv-02006-H-WVG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay and compensa¬≠tory damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination in the workplace.

“The EEOC continues to see too many companies failing to accommodate workers with disabilities,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Imperial County in its jurisdiction. “We encourage employers to review their policies and procedures to make sure they are in compliance with the ADA.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office added, “This case should serve as a reminder to employers of their responsibilities to accommodate employees under federal law.”

According to the company’s website,¬†www.ihssca.net, Halo Unlimited, Inc. dba Infant Hearing Screening Specialists, provides newborn hearing screening specialists in accordance with State of California standards to over 95 medical facilities.

EEOC: Rehab Center’s Rigidity on Maximum Leave Violated ADA Rights of Arthritis Sufferer

Another disability discrimination case, this one involving an employer’s too-rigid adherence to a maximum leave policy.

A certified nursing assistant with rheumatoid arthritis was denied a reasonable accommodation and then unlawfully fired by a residential rehabilitation facility because of her disability, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Friday.

According to EEOC’s suit, Matthews, N.C.-based Senior Care Properties Inc., d/b/a Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Morehead City, hired Katrina Friend in 2015. Friend has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that she managed with prescription medication. Without medication, Friend has difficulty picking up or gripping objects. In July 2015, Friend was unable to fill her prescriptions as she had not yet received her insurance card from Harborview, and she experienced an arthritis flare-up. By August 2015, Friend resumed her medication regimen and requested four weeks of light duty to allow the medication to take effect. In response, Harborview placed Friend on unpaid leave, never considered Friend’s light duty request, and offered her no other accommodation. Although the company had been informed that Friend could return to full duty at the end of the four weeks for which she requested light duty, Harborview fired Friend for exceeding the company’s maximum two-week leave policy.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Carolina, Eastern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Senior Care Properties Inc. d/b/a Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center; Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-00136-FL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay for Friend along with compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Employees with disabilities may require light duty assignments or leave from work to manage disability-related medication or other treatment so they can continue to work,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers must consider exceptions to light duty and leave policies when necessary to comply with the ADA’s mandate to reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is