EEOC Seal

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
10-6-09

EEOC Sues TriCore Reference Laboratories for Disability Discrimination

Medical Testing Facility Fired Employee Because of Diabetic Joint Disease, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed suit against TriCore Reference Laboratories, charging that the Albuquerque, N.M., diagnostic testing facility violated federal law by failing to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee and then firing her because of her disability.

The EEOC charges that TriCore Reference Laboratories failed to reasonably accommodate Rhonda Wagoner-Alison because of her disability, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) due to diabetes, and then discharged her because of her disability.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against disabled people in the workplace, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities including, when appropriate, reassignment to a vacant position that the employee is qualified for. The EEOC filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and other injunctive relief.

“The law requires employers to make reasonable attempts to accommodate disabled employees, but TriCore failed to make such an effort to resolve this matter fairly and legally” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. “Instead, TriCore, a medical company, engaged in actions that discriminated against the disabled. The EEOC is charged with prosecuting such unlawful conduct, and it intends to do so to the fullest extent of the law.”

EEOC Acting District Director Rayford O. Irvin stated, “TriCore did not honor its obligations under the law. Disabled employees must be given the protections that the ADA was enacted to provide.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.