Class of Individuals Denied Jobs, Accommodations or Fired Due to Their Perceived or Actual Disabilities, Says Federal Agency
FRESNO - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced it filed a lawsuit against Magnolia Health Corporation and its affiliates alleging the systemic discrimination of a class of job applicants and employees due to their perceived or actual disabilities. The Visalia, Calif.-based company and its affiliates operate six health care and assisted living facilities throughout California's Central Valley.
Since 2012, a class of applicants and employees were affected by Magnolia Health's practice of denying hire, accommodating people with disabilities, and ultimately firing individuals who were regarded as disabled, had a record of a disability or had an actual disability, EEOC contends. Some class members applied for jobs and were offered positions under the condition that they pass a medical examination. However, EEOC alleges that the company discharged or revoked the job offers of class members upon learning of or receiving records of prior medical conditions or current medical restrictions.
Magnolia Health's alleged discrimination based on disability, record of disability and perceived disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended. EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California against Magnolia Health and its six affiliated companies after exhausting administrative attempts to resolve the case. The agency seeks backpay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the class, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address disability discrimination.
"Requiring individuals to be free from any need for accommodation is a trend that the EEOC is seeing in our region. Disability discrimination remains a persistent problem that needs more attention by employers," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District.
"Employers must try to accommodate individuals with disabilities by exploring effective ways to allow them to work provided there is no undue hardship," said Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC's Fresno Local Office. "Employment decisions, such as denying hire or firing, that are made without engaging in that critical interactive process run afoul of the law."
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 Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.