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Dialysis Company Sued for Disability Discrimination

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.

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