Nursing Facility Refused to Provide Reasonable Accommodation To Employee With Depression, Federal Agency Charged
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance, LLC, a Delaware corporation, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance, LLC operates Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth, a nursing home in Charlotte that provides care to persons who are mentally and physically disabled, ill and/or elderly.
According to the EEOC's suit, around April 25, 2009, Sandra Bagwell, who worked as a licensed practical nurse at the facility, was denied a medical leave of absence that she needed because of her disability, depression. The EEOC said that Bagwell had a major depressive episode which led to her being admitted to a local hospital and that on the same day, Bagwell's husband notified her supervisor that she needed to take a leave of absence. The agency further alleged that Bagwell had previously informed her supervisor that she suffered from depression. The center refused to approve Bagwell's request for a medical leave of absence as an accommodation for her disability and instead, fired her effective April 28, 2009, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance, LLC d/b/a Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth, Civil Action No. 3:12-CV-00176) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $50,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth re-distribute and maintain its formal, written anti-discrimination policy. The policy includes, among other things, information on ADA requirements and the company's procedure for requesting leave based on an impairment or disability. The company must also provide annual training to its managers and department heads on the ADA and the ADA's prohibition against disability discrimination in the workplace. Golden LivingCenter Dartmouth must also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and concerning employees' rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as provide periodic reports to the EEOC identifying individuals who request leave as an accommodation and the outcome of each individual's request.
"We are pleased that we were able to resolve this case without protracted litigation," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "This case should remind employers that inflexible leave policies may be in violation of federal law. Employers must always consider whether their leave policies are in alignment with the requirements of the ADA."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.