Nursing Facility Fired Employee Because of Her Disability, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance LLC, a Delaware corporation that operates Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth in Charlotte, N.C., discriminated against an employee with a disability and then unlawfully fired her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Golden Living operates a nursing facility that provides care to individuals who are ill, physically and mentally disabled, and elderly.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Sandra Bagwell has major depressive disorder (MDD). Bagwell was hired by Golden Living as a licensed practical nurse around April 5, 2007. About two years later, Bagwell had a major depressive episode which led to her being admitted to the Behavioral Health Center/Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph (BHC/CMC) for psychiatric evaluation and treatment. On the same day, Bagwell’s husband called her supervisor, the director of nursing, concerning Bagwell’s hospitalization. Bagwell informed the nursing director that she was in the hospital and would not be able to report to work, and that she needed to take a leave of absence. Bagwell had previously informed the nursing director that she suffered from MDD.
The EEOC said that two days later, Bagwell’s husband also spoke with the defendant’s executive director concerning Bagwell’s need for a medical leave of absence. Golden LivingCenter refused to approve Bagwell’s request for a medical leave of absence as an accommodation for her disability and instead fired her, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance LLC d/b/a Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth; Civil Action No.3:12 CV 176) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.
“Employers are reminded of their obligation to work with disabled employees to provide necessary reasonable accommodations,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “A company cannot simply fire someone because he or she needs to take medical leave related to a disability. Federal law clearly protects people from precisely that type of discriminatory action.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.