Baton Rouge-Area Adult Day Care Fired Employee Because of Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged
NEW ORLEANS - Baker Wellness Center, Inc., a Baton Rouge-area adult day care and wellness center, will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed last year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Baker Wellness violated federal law by firing a direct service worker because she had a disability, diabetes, and in retaliation against the worker for refusing to provide medical information which Baker Wellness illegally requested on its application form.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions that elicit medical information at the pre-offer stage of employment. In addition, the ADA prohibits an employer from firing or taking other adverse employment action against an employee for having a disability, requesting a reasonable accommodation, or complaining that she suffered or is suffering discrimination. The ADA also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations where necessary on a temporary or permanent basis.
After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-00808) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.
On October 28, Judge Brian A. Jackson signed and entered a consent decree agreed to by the parties. In addition to the monetary settlement, the decree provides for significant non-monetary relief, including an injunction prohibiting any future discrimination by Baker Wellness. The decree also requires the company to implement policies prohibiting disability discrimination; permanently modify its employment application to comply with the ADA, including by removing any pre-offer medical inquiries; and post an anti-discrimination notice in the workplace. The decree also requires anti-discrimination training for managers and supervisors and periodic compliance reports by Baker Wellness to EEOC.
"At the pre-offer stage of employment, the ADA prohibits all disability-related inquiries and medical examinations," said Jim Sacher, EEOC's regional attorney for the Houston District. "Employers cannot justify asking disability-related questions on an application by claiming the inquiries are related to the job."
Alexandra Navarre-Davis, one of the trial attorneys litigating the case on behalf of EEOC, added, "An employer may not discriminate on the basis of a disability or because of an employee's failure to disclose a disability. Further, once an individual with a disability is hired, an employer must follow the ADA in responding to a reasonable accommodation request."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC and the laws it enforces is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.