This post could be one of Christina’s Friday Fun posts if it were not deadly serious.
Our post today is a beautiful example of our (probably overused) terms “low hanging fruit,” and “shooting in a barrel.” What do we mean? We mean the EEOC’s successful penchant for suing medical and healthcare providers under the ADA for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities. “Irony” is what the EEOC calls it. Is that all it is?
Now, the EEOC must be licking its chops – it has achieved a PR coup – a new lawsuit against a Detroit nonprofit which helps people with disabilities (and appropriately named “Disability Network”) for allegedly violating the ADA by discriminating against a deaf employee. It allegedly fired a deaf “independent living specialist” for requesting “reasonable accommodations” — the use of TTY equipment, a video phone and the ability to use text messaging. It also allegedly refused to provide him with alternate accommodations.
Why Does The EEOC Seemingly Target Healthcare Facilities For ADA Suits?
We have long and exhaustively warned medical and healthcare facilities — “easy pickins” we have dubbed them — that the EEOC was gunnin’ for ya if you so much as step over the line in violating the ADA. Why?
We asked before: “What is it about health and medical care facilities and personnel that brings down the heavy hand of the EEOC so often alleging ADA and pregnancy discrimination? Is it that they have an innate bias against the disabled and pregnant women, and discriminate more than other employers?”
Do Health Care People Violate the ADA and Pregnancy Act More Often Than Others?
Not likely, and we have seen nothing to substantiate this. So what is it?
In a post in April we speculated: “Could it be — yes, could it be that the EEOC sees such health care folks as a target as big as a house? You know, can the helping profession, there to treat the sick, disabled and pregnant, stand up to the negative PR that a discrimination suit typically brings if it is alleged that they discriminated against the very folks that they are there to minister to?”
Could it also be that the EEOC likely sees these cases as a chance to pad its won-lost record and bolster its recent legal hits in court?
Take a look at some of only a few of our prior posts if you think that we are joking or that the EEOC is joking — October 1, 2012 ; December 13, 2013; August 3, 2013, September 6, 2013; October 19, 2013 and January 9, 2014.”
Takeaway: On March 10th we found support for our speculation about the EEOC’s motives — from an EEOC official. He said that:
“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).”
As to this new suit, an EEOC attorney said it best in this latest foray into employment discrimination and PR: “The irony in this case is incredible. Disability Network was formed to help and protect people with disabilities – and so was the ADA, under which we now have to sue them for violating their mandate and betraying an employee.”