Commercial Real Estate Services Company Fired Employee with Breast Cancer, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Commercial Real Estate Services Company Cushman & Wakefield will pay $100,000 and furnish significant relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the suit, Toi Patterson worked for Cushman & Wakefield at its Columbia, Md., facility for nine years, first as an administrative assistant, and after a promotion, as a senior administrator, when she requested medical leave for her breast cancer treatment pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While on FMLA leave, Patterson requested, as a reasonable accommodation, to return to work on a part-time basis while she underwent treatment and advised that she might need additional unpaid leave after her surgery. The EEOC charged that Cushman & Wakefield fired Patterson because of her disability instead of allowing her to work part-time or providing another reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to remain employed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, such as a modified work schedule or unpaid leave, unless doing so would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (EEOC v. Cassidy Turley Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc., trading as, Cushman & Wakefield, Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-02788-JKB), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle¬ment through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $100,000 in monetary relief to Patterson, the 18-month consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Cushman & Wakefield from violating the ADA, including refusing to provide reasonable accommodations. Cushman & Wakefield will revise and distribute to all employees a reasonable accom¬modations policy, which will identify part-time and modified work schedules, as well as unpaid leave, as examples of accommodations. It will provide annual ADA training to all managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel at its Columbia location, and inform all newly hired employees about its reasonable accommodation policies and the ADA. The company will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.
"Employers run afoul of the ADA if they don't communicate with an employee with a disability to determine what reasonable accommodation, such as a modified work schedule or unpaid leave, that would keep the individual employed without imposing an undue hardship," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "We are pleased that Cushman & Wakefield worked with us to craft an amicable settlement that compensates Ms. Patterson for her losses and that is designed to protect all applicants and employees from disability discrimination."
Chicago-headquartered Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm, with over 250 offices worldwide, with revenues of $5 billion. The firm operates in more than 60 countries and has over 43,000 employees.
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ-ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.