Human Resources News & Insights

Disability services provider gets nailed — for violating ADA

So you’re a non-profit agency whose mission is to help people with disabilities. How in the world could you think it’s OK to fire somebody because he’s deaf?  

The Metropolitan Detroit Center for Independent Living has agreed to pay $38,500 to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Michigan, the employer denied a deaf employee, who worked as an independent living specialist for the non-profit, reasonable accommodations such as TTY equipment, a video phone and the ability to use text messaging. The complaint also alleged that the employer rejected the employee’s requests, failed to provide him with alternate accommodations, and finally fired him because he is deaf.

In addition to the $38,500 in monetary relief, the five-year consent decree settling the suit mandates training on the ADA and prohibits Disability Network from terminating an employee on the basis of disability or failing to provide reasonable accommodations in the future.

… and hospital refused accommodation for nurse undergoing cancer treatment

And in our next case, the Angel Medical Center in North Carolina doesn’t come off looking too angelic as it agrees to fork over $85,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit claiming the hospital violated the ADA when it refused to accommodate a nurse undergoing cancer treatments and subsequently fired her because of her disability.

According to the EEOC, Susan Williams began working for the facility in December 2009 as a full-time registered nurse. In December 2011, following an absence for treatment for cancer, Williams attempted to return to work at the hospital. At the time, she was still undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

According to the suit, Williams sought an accommodation that would allow her to complete the necessary chemotherapy treatments while remaining a full-time employee. The EEOC alleged that the hospital refused to accommodate Williams and instead fired her.

In addition to monetary damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Angel revise its disability accommodation process policy, and provide annual training to the hospital’s managers, supervisors and employees on the ADA, its reasonable accommodation requirements and the revised disability accommodation process policy. Additionally, the hospital will post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, and will provide periodic reports to the EEOC identifying individuals who request accommodations under the ADA and the outcome of those requests.

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