In what seems to be a continuing effort to filing cases against companies
that should have known better, the EEOC has filed a
lawsuit against a major dialysis nonprofit for disability discrimination. The defendant,
Dialysis Clinic Inc. is a Nashville based non-profit which employs approximately
5000 people and operates outpatient clinics in 28 states. Its website
includes information about the Americans With Disabilities Act, stating
that employers with 15 or more workers "must make minor changes…to
help people with disabilities work".
Francisca Lee worked as a nurse for Dialysis Clinic Inc. (DCI) in Sacramento,
CA for 13 years prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer in October
2008. She took a leave of absence beginning in December.
Due to its 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, the dialysis provider fired Lee in April 2009,
according to the agency's complaint.
The EEOC alleges that DCI did not explore any accommodations for Lee regarding
a possible extension of her leave but instead told her that she would
have to reapply for her job.
After Lee's oncologist told her that she could resume work "without
restrictions" in June 2009, Lee allegedly applied to be rehired for
any nursing job with DCI but was "repeatedly told that there was
no work available," the complaint says. However, in September of
that year, DCI hired a newly licensed nurse for a staff position, according
to the EEOC.
The EEOC is seeking back pay and benefits for Lee, as well as compensation
for past and future monetary losses caused by DCI's allegedly unlawful
practices. The agency is also asking that DCI be enjoined from discriminating
against workers with disabilities in the future. It asks for an injunction
prohibiting DCI from "terminating the employment of an employee because
of a disability, failing to reinstate or provide a reasonable accommodation
to an employee because of a disability, and engaging in any other employment
practice which discriminates against an employee on the basis of disability."
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered
by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation
Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is
an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability.
The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an
employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause
significant difficulty or expense for the employer ("undue hardship").
If you have been discriminated against by your New York employer, contact
the attorneys at Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP. We can help you enforce your
rights under the law.