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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Failure to Accommodate Employee with Cognitive Disability Draws EEOC Disability Lawsuit - 'St. Alexius Medical Center' in Illinois

Sept 28, 2014
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 

Federal  Agency Says Hospital Could Have Accommodated Employee Instead of Firing Her
CHICAGO - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  charged in a lawsuit filed this week that St. Alexius Medical Center (SAMC) in  Hoffman Estates, Ill., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by  failing to accommodate a hospital greeter with a cognitive disability.
John P. Rowe, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, said  the agency found reasonable cause to believe that SAMC was aware of the employee's  disability and that the employee requested an accommodation, but the company would  not even consider the possibility of accommodating her. 
"When acement and the conduct  of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and  South Dakotan employee requests an accommodation, the ADA  requires employers to engage in an interactive process with the employee to  identify possible accommodations," said Rowe.   "Here, our pre-suit administrative investigation indicated that SAMC  apparently refused to consider whether it could provide any reasonable  accommodations to the disabled employee, including providing written job  instructions."
The EEOC filed suit under the ADA after first attempting to  reach a voluntary settlement with SAMC through its conciliation process.  The case, EEOC  v. St. Alexius Medical Center., N.D. Ill. No. 1:12-cv-07646, was filed September  25, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern  Division. Supevisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorney Laurie  Elkin will litigate the case on behalf of the EEOC.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for  processing discrimination charges, administrative enfor, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against  employment discrimination.  Further  information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Employment suit against St Alexius Hospital can proceed, judge rules

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -A lawsuit claiming a Hoffman Estates hospital fired a greeter over her cognitive disability has been cleared to proceed to trial after a ruling this week in federal court.

Joy Wantuki had been working as a greeter at St. Alexius Medical Center for about six months when she was fired in February 2010. She has a cognitive disability as the result of a previous traumatic brain injury, the lawsuit claims.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the hospital on her behalf in 2012, court records show.

In a motion for summary judgment, the hospital argued it fired her because she was not performing in her position, and that no accommodation would have enabled her to carry out her duties, the EEOC said.

However, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman rejected that argument Monday in an order denying the motion. He ruled that a jury could find that St. Alexius could have offered her reasonable accommodations to allow her to keep working, such as providing written instructions.

“We see too many cases of health care providers falling down in terms of compliance with the ADA even though one would think they would be especially sensitive to disability issues,” said John Hendrickson, an attorney for the EEOC.

“So we're hopeful that this case will spur employers in the health care industries to be more attentive to the requirements federal disability discrimination law.”

A hospital spokesperson could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The order clears the way for the case to proceed to a jury trial, scheduled for Dec. 1, the EEOC said.

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