Pharmacist Fired After Giving Notice of Kidney Transplant Surgery, Federal Agency Charged
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the simultaneous filing and $70,000 settlement of a disability discrimination lawsuit brought against Gemmel Pharmacies Inc., doing business as B&B Pharmacy, on behalf of a pharmacist who was denied a reasonable accommodation and fired due to his disability.
According to the federal agency, the pharmacist was hired at B&B Pharmacy in Bellflower, Calif. in January 2007. The pharmacist was known to have severe diabetes, including renal failure. In August 2007, the pharmacist learned that a donor kidney had become available for him, requiring an immediate kidney transplant. He quickly advised B&B management of the impending surgery and his need for two to three months of unpaid leave of absence to recover. Instead, the EEOC said, B&B Pharmacy fired and replaced the pharmacist.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Gemmel Pharmacies Inc. d/b/a B&B Pharmacy, Case No. CV11-10357-ODW (FFMX)) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
As part of settlement, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree which provides $70,000 in monetary relief for the pharmacist and designates an equal employment opportunity (EEO) coordinator. The EEO coordinator will revise the company's policies and procedures to comply with the ADA, particularly with respect to administering reasonable accommodations; train all employees on the policies; track future reasonable accommodation requests and ADA complaints; and submit annual reports to the EEOC on the handling of such requests and complaints.
“This was a life-and-death situation for this pharmacist that could have been settled simply,” Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Employers are required to explore effective accommodations for employees with disabilities. The cost and work involved toward that end is often minimal, starting with simple dialogue between the employer and employee.”
Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “We commend this employer for resolving this case early and for taking steps to ensure that people with disabilities are accommodated.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.