U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
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.