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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
5-24-12

Pioneer Place Assisted Living Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Nursing Home Pays $80,000 and Apologizes to Applicant with  Epilepsy

PORTLAND,  Ore. – An assisted living and nursing home facility  in Vale, Ore.,  agreed to pay $80,000 and apologize to a job applicant with epilepsy to resolve  a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.   

According to the EEOC lawsuit filed  last September, Pioneer Place Assisted Living refused to hire Pamila Bourasa  for a cook position even though Bourasa had already completed a positive  interview and had discussed a start date.   When informed that she needed to pass a drug test before beginning work,  Bourasa mentioned that she had epilepsy and was taking a prescription  medication that would show up on the drug test.   She believed she had a secure job offer and had already quit her prior job  when Pioneer Place  rejected her because of drug test results. 

“This was a devastating experience for me but I am glad to put  this behind me,” said Bourasa, who has more  than 40 years experience in the restaurant industry and experience in an  assisted living facility.  “My  whole life I have been faced with people not understanding epilepsy and making  incorrect assumptions based on fear and stereotypes.  I hope that by standing up I have made a  difference in the lives of everyone who suffers from this disability.”

The Americans With Disabilities Act  (ADA) prohibits employers from using selection standards or criteria which  screen out people with disabilities.  After first attempting to reach a voluntary  settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Pioneer Nursing Home Health  District, d/b/a Pioneer Assisted Living) in U.S. District Court for the  District of Oregon. 

Under the consent decree settling  the suit, Pioneer Place will pay Bourasa $80,000.  The company will also train all employees and  managers on disability law, implement anti-discrimination policies on inter­viewing  and hiring, and make annual reports to the EEOC for three years. 

 “The ADA protects workers with disabilities  from being excluded based on misinformation and stereotypes,” said EEOC San  Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.   “Employers must evaluate each job applicant fairly and without  prejudices.”

Michael Baldonado, the EEOC’s San  Francisco District Office director, added, “We commend Pioneer Place for acknowledging the  mistakes they made.  As a result of this lawsuit  and the changes they agreed to make, this employer will have a better  understanding of its obligations under the law.” 

Pioneer Place Assisted Living  offers full-service assisted living facilities including nursing care,  long-term care skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services in Vale, Ore.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting  employment discrimination.  Additional  information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.