Company Fired Employee Who Sought Leave after Surgery, Federal Agency Charged
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - A federal judge in Milwaukee has entered a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC.
According to the EEOC's suit, GGNSC violated federal law by firing an employee of its Milwaukee office, Mary Benford, after she requested an extension of leave to recover from knee surgery. GGNSC has since moved its Milwaukee operations to Fort Smith, Ark.
Denying an employee medical leave for treatment of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), unless granting the leave would cause the employer undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC, No. 2:12-cv-00238-NJ) in March 2012 after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the lawsuit, entered today by U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert, provides that GGNSC will pay $75,000 to Benford and prohibits future discrimination. Also, GGNSC will train its employees, managers and supervisors regarding disability discrimination and an employer's obligations and the rights of employees under the ADA. The company will create a new anti-discrimination policy that explains the its commitment to providing reasonable accommodations under the ADA, report future accommodation requests to the EEOC and remove from Benford's file any negative reference to her accommodation requests or her termination.
"The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees so they can perform the jobs they are qualified to do," said John C. Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, which is responsible for EEOC litigation in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. "Absent undue hardship, there is no excuse not to provide reasonable accommodations. We appreciate GGNSC's willingness to provide relief for Ms. Benford and to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA when they are needed."
GGNSC Administrative Services is the central billing and collections office for Golden Living, a family of companies that collectively has 40,000 employees and, through subsidiaries, provides hospice care, home health services and temporary staffing services. Golden Living operates more than 300 Golden Living Centers and 15 Golden Living assisted-living communities in 21 states and 59 AseraCare hospice facilities in 19 states.
The EEOC's litigation efforts were led by trial attorneys César J. del Peral and Dennis R. McBride from its Milwaukee Area Office and were supervised by Associate Regional Attorney Jean Kamp.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the agency is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.