The EEOC continues to tout its targeting of health care and medical providers under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The “low hanging fruit” today – an optical store in Michigan which agreed to settle a lawsuit for $53,000 and other relief.
The claim? It denied a request made by an optician with anxiety and panic disorder for the “reasonable accommodation” of bringing her service dog to work. According to the EEOC’s press release: “The dog alerted her to oncoming panic attacks, helped alleviate symptoms during a panic attack, and could also do other tasks, such as retrieve small objects, retrieve her medical bag and guide her to an exit.”
“’Shooting fish in a barrel’ is also our way of describing the EEOC’s targeting of heath care providers for disability discrimination claims: see our posts of January 9, 2014 ; posts on December 13, 2013 ; and cases and commentary in our posts of August 3, 2013, September 6, 2013, and October 19, 2013.
We have suggested many times that the EEOC targets these facilities for disability discrimination claims likely because they are fairly easy marks. In fact, a good many, if not most of the ADA case filings we have seen recently are against medical or health care facilities. Think about it — 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?
And the EEOC intends to go after the low hanging fruit first.