Hospital Refused to Accommodate Employee Disabled by Workplace Injury, Refused to Bring Her Back to Work, Federal Agency Charges
WASHINGTON - Washington Hospital Center Corporation, doing business as MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and MedStar Health, Inc. (together, "MedStar") violated federal law when they refused to reassign or otherwise bring back to work a patient care technician who was injured on the job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Melissa Boyd was working for MedStar as a patient care technician in October 2015, when she sustained a disabling knee injury on the job. After that, Boyd worked in MedStar's Patient Advocacy department for a few months, but in May 2016, MedStar told Boyd she could no longer work in that department and sent her home. Boyd filed an internal grievance regarding the termination of her work in the Patient Advocacy department, and in June 2016, she filed a charge of disability discrimination with EEOC. After October 2015, Boyd applied for and MedStar filled positions that Boyd was qualified to perform and could do with her medical restrictions, but MedStar required Boyd to compete with other applicants for those positions and never reassigned her to any of them. In July 2016, MedStar decided Boyd could not be reassigned to any position because she might need surgery in the future.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination and retaliation for opposing it and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities unless it would cause an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Washington Hospital Center Corporation d/b/a MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Health, Inc., Case No. 18-2160) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting MedStar from discriminating against employees because of disability in the future, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief.
"This employer's refusal to bring Ms. Boyd back to work because she might need future surgery is inexcusable," said Mindy E. Weinstein, acting director of the EEOC's Washington Field Office. "A company cannot deny employment opportunities to an employee with a disability because it anticipates it may have to accommodate her in the future. The EEOC is committed to enforcing disability discrimination law."
EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, "Reassignment can be a reasonable accommodation for an employee who can no longer perform the duties of his or her current position because of a disability, and requiring an employee in that situation to compete for other jobs just like any other applicant is no accommodation. Employers who do not make an active effort to accommodate the known limitations of employees with disabilities risk discrimination suits such as the one the EEOC has filed here."
The EEOC's Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.
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.