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PRESS RELEASE
6-19-12

Johns Hopkins Home Health Care to Pay $160,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

EEOC  Charged Health Care Provider Failed to Accommodate Employee with Breast Cancer, then Fired  Her

BALTIMORE -- Johns Hopkins Home  Care Group, Inc. (JHHCG), a full-service home health care provider, will pay  $160,000 and provide other relief to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that JHHCG  violated the ADA when it discriminated against an employee because of her  disability, failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her  disability, and retaliated against her for bringing her claims to the  EEOC. 

According to the EEOC’s suit (Case  No. 11-cv-01911-WDQ), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of  Maryland, Northern Division, JHHCG had employed Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered  nurse, as a pediatric case manager since 2003.   Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2009, and her  medical treatment required that she take leave shortly thereafter.  Following Fisher’s period of leave, when she  was cleared to return to work, JHHCG failed to provide her with a reasonable  accommodation that would have allowed her to return to work despite her limited  restrictions – restrictions that were progressively phased out.  After JHHCG failed to reasonably accommodate  her, Fisher filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and she was then  subjected to retaliatory adverse employment actions and terminated.

The ADA prohibits an employer from  discriminating against an employee because of her disability, and further  requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations that enable the employee  perform the essential functions of her position.  In addition to the protections against  discrimination and the requirement to accommodate, the ADA also protects  individuals from retaliation for exercising their rights to be free of  disability discrimination.  The lawsuit  was filed after the EEOC first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.

“The Commission has  devoted considerable effort to ensuring compliance with the ADA  through the issuance of policy and public education,” said EEOC General  Counsel P. David Lopez.  “As this case demonstrates, the EEOC will  work to ensure that the employment of persons with disabilities such as  cancer will not be compromised because of disability.” 

The three-year consent decree  settling the lawsuit provides $160,000 to Fisher in lost wages and compensatory  damages.  The decree also requires JHHCG to  train its human resource personnel and managers on compliance with federal  anti-discrimination laws, with an emphasis on the ADA and reasonable  accommodations.  JHHCG will also  implement and disseminate a modified ADA reasonable accommodation policy to  enhance the reasonable accommodation process and promote compliance with the  ADA, and will post a notice for employees describing its obligations under the  ADA and affirming its commitment providing a work environment free from illegal  discrimination.

“Thanks to improvements in  treatment and early detection, millions of women are surviving breast cancer  today,” said Debra M. Lawrence, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia  District Office which includes Maryland.   “Despite  these gains in cancer survival rates and the passage of the ADA, people with  cancer still experience barriers to equal job opportunities.  An employer must  provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with cancer, whether it is  needed because of limitations caused by the cancer itself or the side effects  of medication and/or treatment for the cancer.   I am pleased that JHHCG took the allegations in the EEOC’s complaint  seriously, cooperated in resolving this matter, and agreed to take steps to  ensure that its employees are free from disability discrimination and receive  the accommodations they are entitled to under the ADA.”

According to the company’s web  site, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc., is owned and operated by Johns  Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins University and has been serving  Maryland since 1983.

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.