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Mississippi medical center to pay $100K in EEOC disability lawsuit

Agency found employer failed to provide employee reasonable accommodation, place on light-duty

Posted September 15, 2017

A Mississippi medical center, which provides inpatient and outpatient medical and surgical services, has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced September 13.

According to the EEOC's suit, a former licensed practical nurse employed by the center for 36 years sought and was approved for sick leave from work to have surgery on her shoulder. Shortly before her leave was to expire, the employee requested (consistent with the advice of her physical therapist and physician) a reasonable accommodation of an extension of her leave, or to return to work on light duty.

The agency found that the center refused the employee’s requests, refused to provide any accommodation, and failed to engage in any interactive process to try to reach a solution. The center also refused to place the employee temporarily in an available light-duty position for which she was qualified, and then terminated her.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee's disability, unless the employer would suffer an undue hardship as a result.

In addition to monetary relief, the one-year consent decree settling the suit requires the center to:

  • Provide training to its employees on its obligations under the ADA;
  • Review its anti-discrimination policies, and modify them if necessary; and
  • Post notices on its bulletin boards reaffirming to its employees its policy not to discriminate against employees with disabilities, and informing them of their right to contact the EEOC if they feel they have been discriminated or retaliated against.

The consent decree also enjoins the company from engaging in any discrimination or retaliation because of disability. After one year, the EEOC and River Region will confer with the court to determine whether the center has complied with the decree's terms. The court will retain jurisdiction of the case for one year to ensure that the center complies with the terms.

ADA Essentials ManualJ. J. Keller's ADA Essentials Manual reviews Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and provides plain-English explanations to help you stay in compliance.


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