Regional Medical Center Rescinded Job Offer Because of Perceived Disability, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp., one of the largest health care institutions in North Carolina, violated federal law by refusing to hire an applicant for a phlebotomist position because of an impairment to his left knee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, Donovus Todd has a permanent physical impairment of his left knee as a result of a knee injury. In 2009, Todd received medical clearance to participate in a phlebotomist training program at a community college in Charlotte. As part of the program, Todd completed a seven-week phlebotomist internship with Presbyterian Healthcare. On completion of the program, Todd applied for and was offered a permanent position with Presbyterian Healthcare as a phlebotomist, pending a health screening exam. Todd disclosed the knee impairment during the health screening and provided Presbyterian Healthcare with his related medical records, and then the company rescinded its job offer. According to the EEOC, Todd was fully qualified for the position and could perform its duties, but was denied hire simply because Presbyterian Healthcare perceived him to be disabled as a result of his knee injury.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on real or perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp.; Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-00195) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.
"It is unfortunate that more than 20 years after the enactment of the ADA, too many employers hold impairments against applicants when those impairments don't inhibit their ability to perform the jobs they seek," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC is fully committed to its responsibility to enforce the ADA and combat disability discrimination."
According to company information, Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp. is a private regional medical center that operates Presbyterian Hospital and four other general hospitals in Charlotte and surrounding areas. The company also maintains a network of primary care and specialty physicians and operates numerous outpatient centers, urgent care clinics and other ancillary facilities. Presbyterian employs more than 9,000 people.
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.