Here we go again – another couple of heath care facilities sued by the EEOC under the ADA. Do you think it is merely a coincidence that such a large number of the EEOC’s ADA cases are against such companies? If so, read our many posts on the subject.
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?
We asked, again, as recently as April: “Do Health Care People Violate the ADA and Pregnancy Act More Often Than Others?”
“Could it be?” we asked, “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?”
If faithful readers are not bored stiff with our repeated words of caution to health care providers, read on!
The First New Case
In the first case the defendant is a company which operates a North Carolina nursing home which allegedly hired a woman as a cook and dietary aide ”who has a physical impairment that limits her use of the left side of her body.”
As the EEOC alleges, she was quickly asked about her left arm by her supervisor and told the supervisor that “that she did not have the full use of her left arm, but that she was still able to perform her job duties.” Not long after she was told that the supervisor did not believe that she could perform her job duties without the full use of both arms, and she was fired
An EEOC attorney said that “An employer cannot terminate an employee based solely on uninformed assumptions about her ability to work simply because of a disability.”
In the second EEOC lawsuit, a leading dialysis clinic in Sacramento run by a Nashville-based non-profit fired a nurse who had worked there for 14 years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The company allegedly “had a policy of firing employees who are unable to return to work 30 days after they have exhausted their 12 week leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act,” and made no exception for plaintiff, who had taken medical leave in order to have mastectomy surgery and chemotherapy treatments.
Moreover, the company allegedly did not “explore any accommodations for [her] regarding a possible extension of her leave but instead told her that she would have to reapply for her job.”
Although she did reapply, she was never rehired.
An EEOC attorney was quoted as saying that “Given the ADA’s mandate, I would urge employers to be flexible concerning leave extensions if it causes no undue hardship. [Plaintiff] had over 30 years’ experience in dialysis treatment and really wanted to work. Our investigation showed that she only needed two more months to return to work. Why sacrifice a valuable employee with a good record over an arbitrary time limit?”
Takeaway: Better wake up medical and healthcare folks — the EEOC is licking its chops!