We have a particular penchant for tracking ageist code used by employers to mean “old” (mainly because, as language buffs, we are intrigued by the wide variety of terms used by creative employers), and new cases filed by the EEOC accusing medical and health care providers of discriminating against disabled people (mainly because, as employment professionals, we are amazed at how obtuse some employers can be).
It’s been awhile – oh, at least two weeks – since we wrote about a new EEOC ADA filing. But now we have two new ones to highlight. The EEOC has just sued North Carolina’s Angel Medical Center, a critical access hospital, for refusing to accommodate a registered nurse’s need for cancer chemo treatments and then firing her. What were they thinking?
An EEOC attorney’s statement underscored what we have been harping on all these months in warning that the EEOC was targeting health care facilities for alleged ADA discrimination: “One would hope that hospitals and other health care facilities would understand and respect an employee’s need for an accommodation resulting from cancer treatments.”
The EEOC also just sued a Michigan operator of a chain of assisted living facilities for violating the ADA. The claim – after hiring an administrator of the new facility, the company learned from her at her physical examination that she suffered from epilepsy. So naturally she was fired the first day she worked.
Once again the EEOC declared that it “will vigorously pursue violations of the ADA when employers base their decisions on baseless myths, fears and stereotypes about persons with epilepsy.”
We have cautioned employers often about succumbing to “myths, fears and stereotypes” when it comes to people with disabilities. See, for example, our recent post about an army veteran with a prosthetic hand.
As a postscript, the EEOC just reported that a second North Carolina health care facility, Camden Place Health & Rehab, just agreed to pay $51,000 to settle an EEOC ADA suit brought on behalf of a certified nursing assistant with asthma who was required by a new company policy to supervise residents during smoking breaks, which made her asthma worse. She submitted a doctor’s note and requested to be excused from this chore. She was fired.
And yet again the EEOC emphasized that health care facilities have a special duty: “Employers must be sensitive and reasonable about an employee’s complaints about a workplace hazard to their health, and health-related facilities should be especially cognizant of this.”
We reported the filing of this suit last New Year’s eve, and looking at that old post again, we see our same warning about the EEOC targets noted in the current blog.
When will employers listen to us?