Hospital Failed to Accommodate and Subsequently Fired Nurse Technician Who Was Undergoing Medical Treatment, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA - Emory Healthcare, Inc., which operates Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM) in Atlanta, will pay $15,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Kendall McCoy began working for EUHM in August 1988 as a nurse technician. Around Oct. 15, 2012, McCoy attempted to return to work following an absence for treatment of a medical condition that required him to undergo emergency surgery approximately two months prior. EEOC said that McCoy sought an accommodation of unpaid medical leave so that he could complete the necessary treatment and then return to his position. The agency further charged that the hospital refused to provide the additional medical leave as an accommodation, and fired McCoy instead.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would be an undue hardship. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Emory Healthcare Inc.; Civil Action No. 1:15-CV-03407) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. McCoy subsequently filed his own suit joined to EEOC's lawsuit.
In addition to providing monetary relief to McCoy, the two-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires the hospital to revise its medical leave policies, and provide annual training on the ADA and medical leave requests to all employees responsible for approving medical leave requests. The decree also requires the hospital to provide periodic reports to EEOC identifying individuals who were discharged after being denied leave related to a medical condition.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement that is mutually beneficial to the parties and will have a major impact on the current and future workforce of one of our community's large employers," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "It is critical that employers train their human resources personnel so that they properly make determinations related to requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov .