Way back on October 1, 2012 we titled a post “EEOC Making An Example Of Health Care Industry As ADA Violators.” Since then we have written innumerable posts in which we have detected a pattern of the EEOC’s targeting of health care facilities and providers for violating the ADA, and have even characterized these cases as: “low hanging fruit,” and “shooting fish in a barrel.”
And now our speculation has been confirmed by the EEOC itself.
Most recently on February 26th, we wrote: “Call it what you will, but ’shooting fish in a barrel’ is our way of describing the EEOC’s clear targeting of heath care providers for disability discrimination claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”).” See our post on December 13, 2013 entitled “When Will Medical Providers Learn Not To Be ‘Fish In A Barrel’ To Be Shot By The EEOC?,” and cases and commentary in our posts of August 3, 2013, September 6, 2013, and October 19, 2013 and January 9, 2014.”
As to our speculation as to the EEOC’s motives we wrote: “How do you think the public reacts to doctors and clinics, who are there to treat the sick and injured, being sued for allegedly discriminating against their own employees who are sick or injured? It is a PR bonanza for the EEOC — for example, in announcing that the EEOC just settled another of these cases, an EEOC attorney said that ‘A health care facility should especially understand the importance of non-discrimination regardless of disabilities.’”
Well, the EEOC has just announced that a hospital has just settled an ADA case for $75,000. We wrote about that case when it was filed in 2012, and said that the EEOC alleged that a day care center operated by Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley, Iowa unlawfully failed to hire a woman as a child care worker despite the fact that she had years of child care experience because of her cerebral palsy. She was passed over in favor of less-qualified applicants.
Nothing particularly significant about this settlement, except a comment from an EEOC official:
“Sometimes it looks like organizations engaged in the health care field or in the performance of other ‘good works’ consider it impossible for them to have discriminated — or to be challenged for having discriminated — particularly when it comes to the ADA. But our experience has been that all organizations, whatever their line of business and however they are organized, are vulnerable to falling into patterns or acts of discrimination if they do not consciously make compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws a priority. We are optimistic that the consent decree in this case will encourage that kind of compliance (emphasis added).”
So besides such ADA suits being good PR for the EEOC, the EEOC seems to be saying that it will “challenge” health care facilities in particular for acting as if they are above the law or feeling invulnerable simply because they “do good work.”
We warned you!