The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-24-09

EEOC SUES ST. JOHN HEALTH SYSTEM FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

Operating Room Scrub Technician Removed From Position Due to Hearing Impairment, Federal Agency Charges

ST. LOUIS -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed suit against St. John Health System, Inc., charging that the Tulsa, Okla., hospital violated federal law by removing an employee from her position as a scrub technician and then firing her because of her hearing impairment.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charges that in March 2006 St. John Health System removed Laquita Reherman from her position as an operating room scrub technician due to complaints from physicians about her hearing impairment, and refused to assist her in finding another permanent position within the hospital system. There were a number of positions available that Reherman could have performed in spite of her hearing impairment, the EEOC said. St. John placed Reherman in a temporary position as a float scrub technician until mid-June 2006, when St. John informed her that the float position had been eliminated. Reherman’s employment was terminated on June 29, 2006.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities including, where appropriate, reassignment to another vacant position. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in Tulsa (EEOC v. St. John Health System and Physician Support Services, Inc., 4:09-cv-00624-GKF-TLW) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The EEOC seeks reinstatement for Reherman, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and other injunctive relief.

“The law requires an employer to make reasonable attempts to accommodate its employees’ disabilities, but St. John failed to make a sufficient effort to resolve this matter fairly and legally,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney for the EEOC's St. Louis District Office. “St. John’s actions were unlawful and the EEOC is charged with prosecuting such unlawful conduct.”

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.


This page was last modified on September 24, 2009.

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