Companies' Inflexible Leave and 100% Healed Policies Violate the ADA, Federal Agency Charges
FRESNO, Calif. - Prestige Care, Inc., Prestige Senior Living, LLC and their affiliates violated federal law when they refused to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The EEOC further alleges that the named companies engaged in the practice of denying light duty and leave as an accommodation to employees with disabilities.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the Vancouver, Wash.-based companies and their affiliated skilled nursing and/or assisted living facilities had a written policy that required employees be 100% healed while at work. Moreover, the companies would not allow employees to return to work after a medical leave unless they did so without medical restrictions. The EEOC further charges that Prestige and its affiliates discharged employees for exceeding the companies' restrictive leave policy. By doing so, the EEOC alleges that the companies' long-term practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Prestige Care, Inc, et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-01299-AWI-SAB) under the ADA after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay, benefits and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent any future discrimination in the workplace.
"We continue to see too many cases where employers implement inflexible policies and procedures that undermine the ADA," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, which includes the Central Valley in its jurisdiction.
Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno Local Office, added, "Health care is an industry in which one might expect to see little disability discrimination - but, sadly, the EEOC sees too much of it there. A rigid policy of denying leave or light duty to employees with disabilities without a meaningful interactive process frequently leads to violations of the law."
According to the company's website, www.prestigecare.com , Prestige Care provides independent living communities, assisted living, memory care, home health and rehabilitation and post-acute care to senior citizens. Prestige and its affiliates provide services throughout the western United States including Washington, Oregon and California.
Eliminating qualification standards and inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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.