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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
7-11-18

EEOC Sues Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler And Sleep Health for Disability Discrimination


ADA Violated With Unlawful Medical Inquiry and Termination, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS - Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler and Sleep Health violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making an unlawful medical inquiry of employees, and terminating Billings/Collections Specialist Angela Abler because of her responses to the medical inquiry, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the EEOC, in August 2013, Defendants made an unlawful medical inquiry of Ms. Abler and other employees by requesting that they complete a Medical Questionnaire that asked if employees had any of over 20 listed medical conditions, whether the employee had an impairment or disability, whether the employee had previous surgery or received a permanent disability rating. Ms. Abler answered all of the questions truthfully, stating that she had been injured on-the-job in 1996, and had back surgery, and as a result, was given a permanent partial disability rating. However, this back surgery and resulting disability did not impact the Charging Party's ability to perform the work of Billing/Collections Specialist. Three days after completing the Medical Questionnaire, Ms. Abler was terminated.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability, including a record or history of a disability and employees who are regarded as disabled. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division (EEOC v. Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler PA and Sleep Health DME LLC, Civil Action No. 6:18-CV-00338-RWS, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Employees who are able to perform the essential functions of their job cannot be terminated just because they previously suffered limitations from a physical impairment or underwent a medical procedure that the company speculates might be disabling," said Suzanne M. Anderson, Supervisory Trial Attorney for the EEOC. "Ms. Abler was able to perform all of the work of her job as Billings and Collections Specialist at the time she was employed."

EEOC Dallas District Office Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added: "Healthcare providers should know that federal law prohibits employers from using a medical questionnaire to screen out or push out workers with disabilities or who are regarded as disabled without the inquiry being job-related and consistent with a business necessity. The medical questionnaire used at Sleep Health, which required persons to disclose current conditions or their medical history, was unnecessary to assess their ability to perform the job. Such employment practices leave employees exposed to unlawful exclusion based on myths, fears and stereotypes."

The physicians at Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler (Texas) in conjunction with Sleep Health are providers of the overall diagnosis and treatment, including provision of equipment to patients for sleep-related medical conditions.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

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According to the EEOC, in August 2013, Defendants made an unlawful medical inquiry of Ms. Abler and other employees by requesting that they complete a Medical Questionnaire that asked if employees had any of over 20 listed medical conditions, whether the employee had an impairment or disability, whether the employee had previous surgery or received a permanent disability rating. Ms. Abler answered all of the questions truthfully, stating that she had been injured on-the-job in 1996, and had back surgery, and as a result, was given a permanent partial disability rating. However, this back surgery and resulting disability did not impact the Charging Party's ability to perform the work of Billing/Collections Specialist. Three days after completing the Medical Questionnaire, Ms. Abler was terminated.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability, including a record or history of a disability and employees who are regarded as disabled. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division (EEOC v. Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler PA and Sleep Health DME LLC, Civil Action No. 6:18-CV-00338-RWS, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Employees who are able to perform the essential functions of their job cannot be terminated just because they previously suffered limitations from a physical impairment or underwent a medical procedure that the company speculates might be disabling," said Suzanne M. Anderson, Supervisory Trial Attorney for the EEOC. "Ms. Abler was able to perform all of the work of her job as Billings and Collections Specialist at the time she was employed."

EEOC Dallas District Office Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added: "Healthcare providers should know that federal law prohibits employers from using a medical questionnaire to screen out or push out workers with disabilities or who are regarded as disabled without the inquiry being job-related and consistent with a business necessity. The medical questionnaire used at Sleep Health, which required persons to disclose current conditions or their medical history, was unnecessary to assess their ability to perform the job. Such employment practices leave employees exposed to unlawful exclusion based on myths, fears and stereotypes."

The physicians at Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler (Texas) in conjunction with Sleep Health are providers of the overall diagnosis and treatment, including provision of equipment to patients for sleep-related medical conditions.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.