Medical Practice Fired Employee Because of Her Crohn's Disease, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. will pay $92,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Doneen King, a medical practice representative whose duties included answering phone calls and scheduling appointments, was unable to work for two weeks while undergoing medical treatment for her disability, Crohn's disease, including two emergency room visits and a hospitalization. The EEOC said that when King requested an additional day of unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation, the medical practice instead terminated her.
The EEOC said that University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc.'s lateness and attendance policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA), because it did not provide for exceptions or modifications to the attendance policy as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-02887-GLR, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"It is not only a good business practice to provide reasonable and inexpensive accommodations that allow employees with disabilities to remain employed, it is required by federal law," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
In addition to the $92,500 in monetary relief to King, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. from violating the ADA, including by not providing reasonable accommodations. It must revise its lateness and absenteeism policy to permit reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The medical practice is required to train all supervisory, managerial and human resources personnel on the ADA and post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit at its facilities. University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. will report to the EEOC on its compliance with the consent decree, including its handling of requests for leave as a reasonable accommodation and the resolution of any complaints of disability discrimination.
"We appreciate that the University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. worked with the EEOC to resolve this case fairly, expeditiously and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses," added EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "This settlement is designed to ensure that all employees with disabilities are provided with a reasonable accommodation to allow them to continue working."
According to its website, http://www.fpi.umaryland.edu, University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI) coordinates and supports the clinical activities of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and employs over 1,000 non-physician staff who support the clinical practices of the University of Maryland faculty.
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.