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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

AccentCare to Pay $25,000 To Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit for Reasonable Accommodation

Health Care Provider Refused to Grant Employee a Reasonable Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS / Dec. 1, 2017 - AccentCare, Inc., a home healthcare company headquartered in Dallas, has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its suit that AccentCare discriminated against an employee with bipolar disorder.

According to the EEOC's suit, an AccentCare IT analyst informed the company that she has bipolar disorder and requested leave in order to see her health care provider. The EEOC further said that upon learning of the employee's disability and receiving her request for leave, AccentCare fired her within one day, without giving proper consideration to her request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' disabilities as long as it does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-03157) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the case, AccentCare, Inc. will pay $25,000 in monetary relief to the former IT analyst. AccentCare also agreed to post a notice about the settlement, and to provide training for employees on the ADA to include instruction on the specific provisions of the reasonable accommodation process. The training will include an instruction advising managers and supervisors of the potential consequences for violations of the ADA. Additionally, AccentCare has agreed to document complaints of disability discrimination and report to the EEOC.

"It has always been our contention that AccentCare demonstrated a reckless disregard for the federally protected rights of this valuable employee, rather than carefully considering her request for leave to see her doctor," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office, added, "We would expect that employers in the health care field would be keenly aware of the importance of supporting the medical needs of their employees by allowing reasonable time that may be required for treatment. We are pleased with the resolution of this case."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
SOURCE: EEOC press release

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Facts conspicuously absent from the EEOC’s include: (1) in June, the federal district court granted summary judgment to AccentCare regarding the EEOC’s primary wrongful termination claim, 2017 WL 2691240 (N.D. Tex. June 21, 2017); (2) the Consent Decree merely resolved the remaining reasonable accommodation claim for nuisance value—a tiny fraction of the approximately $200,000 the EEOC had demanded; (3) additionally, the Consent Decree (a) expressly disclaimed any admission of liability; (b) has only a one year duration, instead of the five years the EEOC had demanded; (c) provides only minimal equitable relief, i.e., notice posting and one hour of ADA managerial training at one facility, not the broad company-wide/nation-wide relief the EEOC had demanded; (4) as part of the resolution, the Charging Party agreed to waive any claim for reinstatement and waived any ability to apply for reemployment in the future; and (5) the EEOC readily agreed to this minimalistic resolution because before suit the EEOC had not bothered to obtain the Charging Party's medical records as part of its investigation and, when the records were obtained after suit was filed, the records contradicted the Charging Party’s contention that her doctor had taken her off work status or that she needed any accommodation of additional leave.