Once again a medical/health services company must pay for (allegedly) violating the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Almost two years ago we wrote about a case filed by the EEOC against an Ohio medical transportation services company which, it was alleged, discriminated against an EMT-paramedic employee with multiple sclerosis. When the employee requested additional leave for his disability he was disciplined for his absences, and when he requested additional points under the company’s no-fault attendance policy, he was fired.
An Employer Must Engage In An Interactive Dialogue To Explore Reasonable Accommodation
An EEOC attorney said at the time that “Under the ADA, once an employer learns of an employee’s disability and the need for reasonable accommodation, the employer must engage in an interactive dialogue to explore reasonable accommodation.”
EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan Targets Disability Discrimination
More significantly, in a press release at the time, the EEOC repeated that “[o]ne of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA. The EEOC reiterates that leave can constitute a reasonable accommodation with this lawsuit.”
The EEOC has now announced that the company settled the matter by agreeing to pay $72,500.
Don’t Forget That The EEOC Requires A Consent Decree When It Settles
Additionally, and this is the standard part of EEOC settlements that we seldom write about (but is the part that lasts long after the money is paid), the company agreed to a three-year decree. What that means is that it must “revise its attendance and punctuality policy to include a procedure for invoking a request for reasonable accommodation; provide yearly training on the ADA and reasonable accommodation for all supervisory, managerial and human resources personnel; and post a notice regarding the outcome of the lawsuit on its employee bulletin board for three years.”
Takeaway: We said when this case was filed:
“Note to health care folks: You are a target for the EEOC, especially for disability discrimination matters. Maybe its because there’s good PR in suing health care employers for such claims, or perhaps the EEOC smells settlement because health care providers need to protect their reputations for caring when it comes to ill or disabled people. Whatever the reason, you of all employers should be extra reasonable in dealing with employees with a disability, and in engaging in the required interactive process.”
Subsequent lawsuits have borne all of this out, as we write about all the time.