Employee Denied Accommodations, Unlawfully Fired, Federal Agency Charges
COLUMBUS, Ohio - OhioHealth Corporation, doing business as Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, violated federal law by failing to accommodate and then firing an employee with narcolepsy, a chronic central nervous system disorder, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Laura Stone, who had worked for the hospital since 2006, was diagnosed with narcolepsy in August 2009 and was later medically restricted to working a day shift position. Stone provided notice of her disability and requested a reasonable accommodation in the form of reassignment to one of several vacant day shift positions for which she was qualified. Rather than reassign Stone, the EEOC charged, the hospital placed her on medical leave and subsequently fired her because of her disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination and requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as reassignment or modification of policies, to a disabled employee, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the company.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division (Case No. 2:13-cv-00780) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks injunctive relief in its lawsuit, and damages and lost wages and benefits for Stone.
"It was flagrantly unfair as well as unlawful to ignore this employee's quite reasonable accommodation request and fire her instead," said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, which oversees the EEOC's enforcement efforts in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. "Instead of simply solving this situation, the hospital pursued a course which forced the EEOC to take legal action to protect this woman's rights."
According to its website, Riverside Methodist Hospital is the largest member hospital of OhioHealth, a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Columbus, Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.