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PRESS RELEASE
11-18-09

St. John Health System Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Former Operating Room Scrub Technician Receives $100,000

TULSA, Okla. -- St. John Health System, Inc. of Tulsa will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to reasonably accommodate a hearing-impaired operating room scrub technician.

According to the EEOC’s suit, LaQuita Reherman had been employed by St. John for approximately six years when she was removed from her scrub technician position in March 2006 after several physicians complained about her being hard of hearing. Reherman wears hearing aids in both ears, the EEOC said, but would have been able to hear doctors’ instructions adequately if it were not for their practice of playing loud music in the operating room. These disturbances, coupled with her hearing impairment, caused the problems, the EEOC said. 

Reherman made it known to St. John that she needed assistance in finding another position, but the hospital made no effort to assist her. The hospital simply put her in another position temporarily and then told her to find a new job in the hospital system, the EEOC said. St. John terminated Reherman in June 2006 after she proved unable to find a vacant position.

Disability discrimination violates the ADA, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as this does not pose an undue hardship on the business. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

Under the terms of the consent decree, filed today for approval in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (EEOC and Reherman v. St. John Health System, Inc., 09CV624 GKF-TLW), St. John agreed to pay LaQuita Reherman $100,000 as damages. The company also agreed to provide disability discrimination training to all management and supervisory employees and to report all requests for reasonable accommodation to the EEOC for the next three years. 

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Melvin Kennedy stated, “St. John should have done more for Ms. Reherman than tell her to locate a vacant position within the hospital system. It is encouraging that this lawsuit settled so quickly and that St. John agreed to reporting provisions in the consent decree that will allow the EEOC to monitor its future responses to reasonable accommodation requests.” 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.