Posts Tagged ‘medical leave’

EEOC Scores Big in ADA Settlement Over Leave Denials to Workers Providing Health Care in Jail

There’s no jail time for ADA violations, but if there were this employer’s too-stingy policy on medical leaves would surely wind up behind bars.

Corizon Health Inc. and Corizon LLC have agreed to pay $950,000 and provide other significant relief in a public consent decree to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced May 16. The Corizon companies provide health care in jails and corrections facilities across the nation, including Arizona.

According to the EEOC, Corizon violated federal law by, among other things, refusing to accommodate employees with disabilities who exhausted their leave under Corizon’s 30-day medical leave policy and/or the Family and Medical Leave Act and terminating them. Corizon repeatedly failed to consider accommodations, including, but not limited to, reassignment, unpaid leave and modified work schedules that would have allowed employees with disabilities to return to work.

Further, the EEOC said, Corizon required employees with disabilities to be 100% healed or to be without any medical restrictions before they could return to work. Also, Corizon refused to accommodate employees with disabilities seeking other accommodations; subjected employees to a hostile work environment due to their disabilities and/or need for accommodation; retaliated against some employees because they engaged in protected activity; terminated employees who had disabilities or needed accommodations; and refused to promote one employee because of her disability and/or need for accommodation.

Corizon’s alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Corizon Health Inc., and Corizon LLC, No. 2:18-cv-02942-PHX-DLR, in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process.

Under the consent decree that was signed by Phoenix-based federal court Judge Douglas L. Rayes, the Corizon companies will pay $950,000 to 23 individuals the EEOC identified in the consent decree as harmed by the policies and practices alleged. The companies will also modify their policies and practices and designate ADA coaches to ensure that employees with disabilities are afforded reasonable accommodations. They will also provide annual training to all their employees, including all human resources and management-level officials, and the Corizon companies will hire a monitor to ensure that they comply with their obligations under the decree and the ADA.

“We are very concerned that so many employers violate the ADA with discriminatory policies,” said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers need to consider additional unpaid leave and reassignment as reasonable accommodations when an employee is unable to do their job even with reasonable accommodations. We look forward to Corizon taking significant steps under this decree to better protect the rights of employees with disabilities.”

Elizabeth Cadle, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, added, “Employers should understand that policies which require an employee to be 100% or without any medical restric­tions violate the ADA because they don’t leave room for reasonable accommodations. Employers should also remember that leave policies must be administered consistent with the need to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. We continue to see many employers with these problematic policies.”

Leave Denial Saddles Employer With ADA Suit

You could say this employer considers medical leave a pest. The problem is it has resulted in it being sued for disability discrimination.

Massey Services, Inc., a pest control and landscaping company which operates service centers in seven states, violated federal law when it denied an employee’s request for medical leave, fired her after learning of her medical condition and subsequently failed to rehire her for the vacant position, the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Massey denied the request by Annie Mitchell, who worked at Massey’s North Charleston facility, for leave after she became hospitalized due to her disability, and instead discharged her from her position.  The EEOC’s suit further alleges that the company actively recruited other candidates for the office manager position and refused to rehire Mitchell, who expressed interest in being rehired into the position, in retaliation for her accom­modation request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Massey Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00263-RMG-MGB) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Mitchell, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimina­tion.

“The ADA affords people with disabilities the right to employment benefits without fear of negative employment actions by their employers,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “It is imperative that employers comprehend and uphold their duty to protect that right, particularly as it pertains to people who are most susceptible to mistreatment.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Federal law does not allow employers to terminate an employee merely because the employer believes there are medical issues.”

Massey Services operates service centers throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

EEOC Goes to Court Over Realtor’s Firing of Senior Administrator Who Had Breast Cancer

An employer that digs in its heels over an employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation to treat a medical condition is asking for trouble from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In the latest EEOC lawsuit against a company that it says wouldn’t consider a reasonable accommodation, the commission charges that a well-known commercial real estate services company did not live up to its legal obligations under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint, Toi Patterson 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, when she requested intermittent leave for her breast cancer treatment under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

When she returned from her first intermittent medical leave, Paterson’s supervisor advised that they “needed to talk” and that she would need to know when Patterson was going to be late or absent. Based on the supervisor’s reaction, Patterson feared that the supervisor would make it difficult to use intermittent leave as needed for medical treatment, so Patterson requested continuous leave under the FMLA, according to the suit.

Prior to the expiration of her FMLA leave, Patterson requested to return to work on a part-time schedule as a reasonable accommodation for her disability and advised she might needed additional unpaid leave after her surgery. EEOC charges that Cushman & Wakefield failed to allow Patterson to work part-time and refused to discuss or provide any other reasonable accommodation to allow her to remain employed. Cushman & Wakefield instead fired Patterson because of her disability, according to the lawsuit.

“Firing a woman who is courageously fighting breast cancer is adding insult to injury and is unlawful disability discrimination,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.

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

$500K Paid by Health Care System to Conciliate ADA Claims Over Medical Leave Return Policies

Another employer has gotten on the wrong side of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the issue of medical leaves under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

This time it’s Presence Health, the largest Catholic healthcare system in Illinois, which has agreed to pay $500,000 to conciliate complaints that three of its hospitals discriminated against persons with disabilities by failing to return employees on medical leaves to their positions and/or failing to reassign them to other positions, for which they were qualified. Instead, Presence Health terminated the employees or placed them on disability leave, the EEOC charged.

Presence Health denied the allegations but agreed to conciliate the matter with EEOC and a class of individuals, including the individuals who filed charges.

Read more about this development.

Employer Drops “Point System” for Disability-Related Absences in Settlement of ADA Charge

Employers continue to pay for their inflexible medical leave policies under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The latest employer to do so is Pactiv LLC, an Illinois-based provider of advanced packing solutions to customers around the world, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that the company will pay $1,700,000 to conciliate a disability discrimination charge.

The alleged offense? According to the EEOC, Pactiv discriminated against individuals with disabilities by disciplining and discharging them according to its nationwide policies to issue attendance points for medical-related absences; not allowing intermittent leave as a reasonable accommodation; and not allowing leave or an extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation.

According to the agreement, Pactiv will:

  1. conduct ADA training at each of its locations nationwide;
  2. revise and distribute its ADA policy and procedures, including those related to providing reasonable accommodations to employees; and
  3. revise and distribute nationwide its new attendance policy that will not assess points for disability-related absences

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

EEOC Says Employer Violated ADA By Refusing to Reemploy Cancer Victim After Medical Leave

A Dallas-based business violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate an employee with cancer following his medical leave, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

The employee worked for DAP Products, Inc., a Dallas-based business and a leading manufacturer of home repair and construction products.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, DAP discharged the employee from his position of production operator because of his prostate cancer, a physical impairment for which he underwent surgery.

After a period of leave the employee was capable of safely continuing in his job, but DAP refused to allow him to return to work, and instead forced him to take extended leave, the EEOC charged.

Then, after refusing to allow the employee to return, DAP fired him for having exceeded company leave limitations.

Read more about the lawsuit.

Employer Settles EEOC Suit Over Medical Leave Policy

It’s never a good idea to bar the door to an employee who is on medical leave and would like to return to work under certain restrictions. That can get you in trouble under the Americans With Disabilities Act, as one employer learned this week.

An employer will restore $46,000 in backpay to an employee it allegedly refused to allow to return to work following a medical leave of absence, under the terms of a settlement announced yesterday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The action involves Americold Logistics LLC, an Atlanta-based global provider of temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics to the food industry.

The EEOC said that Americold employee had chronic lumbar back pain with radiculopathy in her legs. She attempted to return to work, but the company told her that she had to be “100 percent” before doing so. Nor did it offer her a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to work.

In addition to the monetary award, the settlement obligates the company to train its sueprvisors and human resources personnel in its seven-state Southwest Region on the requirements and prohibitions of the ADA. The company will also develop and maintain policies which address how reasonable accommodations will be provided during the course of employment, EEOC said.

You can read more here.