The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is showing no signs of letting up on disability lawsuits.
‘You can’t work with children’
In the first case, a hospital in Sibley, IA, has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination case filed by a woman with cerebral palsy.
The woman had volunteered at the hospital’s day care center and also drove a school bus for the facility. But when she applied for a paying job, the hospital allegedly refused to hire her “out of an unfounded fear that her disability meant that she could not safely care for the children.”
The woman went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued on her behalf. The hospital agreed to settle.
In addition to the $75,000 settlement, the hospital will:
- institute a policy prohibiting bias on the basis of disability
- distribute that policy to all of its employees, and
- train employees and report regularly to the EEOC on its compliance with the ADA.
Hospital visits led to firing
The second case involves an industrial supplier that’s now out $25,000 for firing an employee it believed to be disabled.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Rexnord Industries violated federal law by firing an assembler at a division in Cudahy, WI.
After two unrelated incidents that ended in ambulance trips to the hospital, the company fired one of its assemblers that it believed was disabled. The EEOC claimed that Rexnord failed to properly analyze whether the assembler was a safety threat, which requires employers to use the best available medical information to evaluate the seriousness and likelihood of any risk.
A U.S. Magistrate judge ordered the company to pay the monetary settlement. In addition, the company will:
- remove from her file any reference to the termination of her employment
- train its human resources staff on the ADA and the ADA-required process to designate an employee as a direct threat to safety, and
- keep records of its direct-threat designations.
Epilepsy? No way, says company
In the last case, a healthcare firm in South Florida will pay a whopping $215,000 to settle its own disability bias case.
Baptist Health South Florida, Inc., allegedly discriminated against a general practitioner when it reversed its decision to accommodate the doctor’s epilepsy by permitting her to limit her workday to eight hours a day. She was later fired.
The woman went to the EEOC, which sued on her behalf. The company opted to settle.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the company will:
- train management officials, HR personnel and recruiting personnel annually on disability discrimination and the exploration of modified work schedules as a reasonable accommodation
- post a notice explaining the lawsuit, and
- forward written reports describing all internal complaints of disability discrimination and monitoring by the EEOC for two years.