Hospital Failed to Provide Reasonable Accommodation, Then Fired Disabled Worker
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that a Baltimore hospital will pay nearly $200,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the agency on behalf of a former employee of the hospital. MedStar Harbor Hospital has agreed to pay $179, 576 to Jerome Alston, who had worked at the facility as a respiratory therapist. Alston had undergone a kidney transplant, which required that he take certain medications, which diminished the effectiveness of his immune system and left him more susceptible to infection. Because of his concerns about exposure to infectious airborne materials, Alston had asked his supervisors not to make him work in isolation rooms designed to trap certain infectious airborne substances. The company had extended that accommodation to other workers in the past.
According to documents filed by the EEOC, Alston requested the accommodation in November, 2013, but hospital supervisors denied his request and instead fired him. The EEOC found that the most plausible basis for the termination was Alston’s status as disabled, combined with the hospital’s unwillingness to make any accommodation for his disability.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA), employers may not discriminate against an employee because of a disability. The act requires that employers make “reasonable accommodations” to allow a disabled worker to perform his or her job, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or force the employer to incur significant expense.
In addition to the monetary award, the settlement included an injunction banning the hospital from engaging in any further violations of the ADA. The hospital also agreed to revise its reasonable accommodations policy and distribute the revised policy to all employees. All managers, supervisors, occupational health department workers and human resources employees will also be required to complete ADA training.
Contact Experienced Washington, DC Employment Law Attorney Boniface K. Cobbina
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