U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Queens Nursing Home Refused to Accommodate Request for Time Off And Fired Nurse's Assistant With Back Injury, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK - The Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, a Queens, N.Y., nursing home, violated federal law by firing a nurse's assistant because she failed to submit a request for medical leave on Silvercrest's preferred form, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's suit (Case No. DN CV-12-4808) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, in January 2011 Carolyn Belcon wrote a letter requesting leave after reinjuring her back, which she had previously injured in a car accident. Silvercrest did not acknowledge her request, instead insisting that she fill out the form. Silvercrest then ignored a subsequent request by Belcon to have SEIU-1199, her union, assist when filling out the form. Silvercrest fired Ms. Belcon later the same month, at no time acknowledging her requests.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC seeks a ruling that Silvercrest violated the ADA, plus lost back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.
"Silvercrest ignored Ms. Belcon's perfectly legitimate request for leave because it was not in its preferred format," said Michael J. O'Brien, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. "The company's ignoring an injured employee's leave request for such a ridiculous reason cannot be countenanced."
Kevin Berry, EEOC's District Director in New York, added, "Employers need to remember that the ADA's interactive process is informal and is started when an employee requests an accommodation via whatever means. The law is clear that employers cannot stand on form over substance."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.