Nationwide Health Care Provider for Jails Denied Reasonable Accommodations to Employees With Disabilities, Federal Agency Charges
PHOENIX - Nationwide health care companies Corizon Health Inc., and Corizon LLC (collectively, "Corizon") violated federal law by discriminating against employees with disabilities through the application of a 100% return-to-work policy and other unlawful practices, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Corizon provides health care services to jail and prison inmates in 518 correctional facilities across 26 states, including Arizona.
The EEOC charged that Corizon refused to accommodate employees with disabilities who exhausted their leave under Corizon's 30-day medical leave policy or the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to the EEOC, Corizon repeatedly failed to consider accommodations, including but not limited to alternative placements, additional unpaid leave, and modified work schedules that would have allowed employees with disabilities to return to work. The EEOC also said that Corizon required employees with disabilities to be 100% healed or to be without any medical restrictions before they were allowed to return to work. As a result, Corizon terminated employees because of their disabilities and/or because of their need for accommodation, the EEOC said.
The EEOC also charged that Corizon subjected employees to a hostile work environment based on disability and retaliated against employees because they complained about discrimination by, among other things, disciplining them and assigning them more strenuous job duties. Additionally, on at least one occasion, Corizon failed to promote an employee because of her disability, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Corizon LLC & Corizon HealthCare Inc., CV-18-2942-PHX-JZB, in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discriminatory practices in the future. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that will eradicate and prevent discrimination based on disability going forward.
"Employers should value and utilize the skills of all of their employees, including employees with medical conditions," said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Employers must work with qualified individuals with disabilities to find available and effective reasonable accommodations so that employees can keep their jobs. Employers who ignore the duty to accommodate their employees with disabilities violate the law-and they lose valuable contributors in their workplaces."
Elizabeth Cadle, district director of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, added, "The EEOC is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities. And we will continue to challenge employers who violate these employee's federally protected rights. Employers should never have 100% return to work policies that require employees to have no medical restrictions. That policy tells employees that the company will not provide reasonable accommodations for employees with medical restrictions."
Corizon LLC is a Missouri corporation, and its operation headquarters is in that state. Corizon Health Inc. is a corporation formed in Delaware and its corporate headquarters is in Tennessee. They operate in facilities across the nation, including in Arizona.
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.