Posts Tagged ‘disability discrimination’

KFC Restaurant Ousted Employee Because She Took Meds for Bipolar Disorder, Alleges EEOC

It’s against the law for an employer to force an employee to forego medical treatment or stop taking prescription drugs as a condition for keeping their job.

That’s what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is alleging happened to an employee who worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant franchise in Dublin, Ga.

According to the EEOC, restaurant operator, Hester Foods, Inc., Hester Foods’ owner violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it fired restaurant manager Cynthia Dunson in July 2015 when he found out that she was taking medications prescribed by her doctor for bipolar disorder.

The restaurant owner referred to Dunson’s medications in obscene terms, the EEOC said, and made her destroy her medications by flushing them down a toilet at the restaurant. When Dunson later told the owner that she planned to continue taking the medications per her doctor’s orders, the owner told her not to return to work and fired her.

“Managers and owners cannot force employees to forego medical care or prescribed medications to keep their job,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “Whether an employee works for a large corporation or a local restaurant, she has a right to be protected from discriminatory actions by employers. We want employers of all sizes to understand their duties under the law and for employees to report such actions when they occur.”‘

The EEOC announced the suit’s filing on Monday, June 12.

For a refresher on disability discrimination, click here.


Ousted Pregnant Registrar Owed $70K in Settlement of EEOC Lawsuit Against Camp

$70,000 could pay for a lot of camping equipment or supplies, but instead a Christian Camp operating in Texas must pay those dollars to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit over its mistreatment of a pregnant registrar.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today announced settlement of this lawsuit against Carolina Creek Christian Camp, Inc., a Huntsville, Texas-area business offering summer camping and retreats,

In its lawsuit filed last December, the EEOC charged that Carolina Creek violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act when it demoted Korrie L. Reed after learning she had a pregnancy-related complication. According to the EEOC, soon after starting her position as camp registrar, Reed learned she was pregnant, and, shortly thereafter, developed gestational diabetes. Reed never requested a job reassign­ment, nor did she indicate she was unable to perform her job duties.

Nevertheless, Carolina Creek’s executive director demoted Reed, claiming that the registrar job was too demanding for Reed because of her pregnancy and related medical condition. After Reed told the executive director that she be­lieved her demotion was illegal, Carolina Creek fired her and then sued her in two different lawsuits, alleged the EEOC

“Demoting a pregnant employee because of a belief that a pregnancy-related condition prevents her from performing her job duties is illegal, as is firing the employee for complaining that the demo­tion is discriminatory,” said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston.

“The day is over when an employer could force a pregnant woman out of her job because of stereo­typical, unsupported beliefs about her abilities,” added EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Connie Gatlin, the attorney in charge of litigating the case, A company cannot take it upon itself to remove an employee from her job because it suspects her pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition may interfere with the performance of her duties.”

For a refresher on pregnancy discrimination, click here.

Nursing Home Settles Pregnancy, ADA Case

Remember that if you fail to accommodate a pregnant employee, you could be sued for violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

That fate befell a Philadelphia nursing home, which the EEOC announced today had agreed to pay $132,500 to settle a pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit. It seems that the home wouldn’t accommodate a pregnant nurse who wanted not to have to lift more than 25 pounds following surgery related to her pregnancy.

This even though the home had in the past accommodated nonpregnant employees with similar lifting conditions.

Read more about the settlement of the lawsuit against Nursing home Landis Homes Retirement Community, and its managing entity, Landis Communities.

Fifth Circuit: Rehab Act Allows Employment Discrimination Suits by Independent Contractors

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act authorizes employment discrimination suits by independent contractors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled earlier this month.

The plaintiff in this case is a pediatrician who provided services at Lakeland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, under contract through a staffing agency.

The doctor is suing the staffing agency, and its predecessor that originally had her contract, for discrimination on the basis of disability, a hostile work environment based on her disability, and denial of a reasonable accommodation.

As an independent contractor–and not an employee–the doctor can’t sue the staffing agencies under Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the appeals court said. But Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which applies to recipients of federal financial assistance, doesn’t incorporate that prohibition.

As a result, the doctor can pursue her lawsuit against the agency even though she isn’t its employee.

The case is Flynn v. Distinctive Home Care, decided February 1, 2016.


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.

EEOC: Pregnant Nurse in S.C. With Preexisting Illness Was Victim of Title VII, ADA Violations

Beware the intersection or overlap of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act when it comes to pregnant employees.

In a suit filed last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused a nursing center in South Carolina of violating both laws by refusing to accommodate a pregnant employee with a pre-existing medical condition by allowing her medical leave and instead firing her because she was disabled and pregnant.

According to the EEOC,  NHC Healthcare/Clinton, LLC knew that Tonya Aria, a full-time licensed practical nurse, suffered from paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), which, without medication, can cause rapid heart rate, numbness in the extremities, tunnel vision, and occasional blackouts. The nurse’s PSVT is controlled by medication.

Due to her medical condition and pregnancy, the nurse was placed on bed rest and written out of three days’ work in early January 2013. On Jan. 15, 2013, the EEOC charged, the nurse was fired by the director of nursing because of absences related to her pregnancy and PSVT.

“Federal laws protect employees who are pregnant as well as those who have a disability,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “In this case, Ms. Aria had a pre-existing disability and was pregnant when the events alleged in EEOC’s complaint occurred. However, employees who do not have a pre-existing disability, but who develop medical conditions that meet the ADA’s definition of ‘disability’ as a result of becoming pregnant, are also protected from disability discrimination. Employers must be aware of this intersection between Title VII’s pregnancy discrimination prohibition and the ADA.”

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement about the lawsuit.


EEOC Settles ADA, Pregnancy Cases

Pregnancy and disability aren’t the same thing, but they do share in common that the person in those conditions may need some help from their employer to keep working. Employers that make no effort to help pregnant women or persons with disabilities continue working often get unwanted attention from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Comes word this week that the EEOC has settled another pregnancy discrimination case and another Americans With Disabilities Act case. In the pregnancy discrimination case the EEOC had accused a Chicago-based hospital of not accommodating a high-risk pregnant employee. For that alleged violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Roseland agreed to pay $15,500 and make other changes in its personnel policies to prevent future discrimination.

The ADA case was filed against the Lash Group, accusing the Rockville, Md., company of violating the rights of a female employee returning to work after a bout of  post-partum depression. The company had extended her short-term disability leave, but then fumbled her return by not trying to find her another suitable job after it filled her old job. This employer agreed to pay $75,000 to settle the EEOC’s suit, the commission announced.

If you are an employer, you should study these cases as object lessons in how not to treat your pregnant or disabled employees, and make sure you do what you reasonably can to allow them to continue to work.

The settlement with the hospital is discussed further here, while the resolution of the ADA action against the Lash Group is discussed here.

I also wrote about each of these cases when the EEOC filed them; (Roseland), (Lash)