Settlement Services Companies Revoked Part-Time Schedule and Terminated Employee Who Needed Dialysis, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE - Rockville, Md.-based First Title & Escrow, Inc. and its related companies that operate as a single employer violated federal law when they revoked a title examiner's reasonable accommodation of a part-time schedule and then fired her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
The EEOC said that Tamara Littlejohn successfully worked as a title examiner for First Title & Escrow when she had to be hospitalized and was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. When she was ready to return to work, Littlejohn requested and was permitted to return to work on a part-time basis so she could continue with dialysis. The EEOC charges, however, that the company later demanded that Littlejohn work eight hours per day, even though she explained that she could not work full-time hours due to her dialysis schedule.
Based on the company's demand that she work full-time hours, Littlejohn had surgery to install a port so she could have home dialysis, according to the suit. Littlejohn returned to work one week after the surgery, initially on a part-time schedule. The EEOC says she requested First Title & Escrow's "patience" as she would need some adjustments to her schedule in order to get training for the home dialysis and for follow-up doctor's appointments. After she began working a full-time schedule, she needed a few hours of leave for doctor's visits. According to the suit, one week later, the human resources director told Littlejohn she was being laid off due to a purported lack of work. When Littlejohn replied that there was work available, the human resources director responded that Littlejohn needed to be home taking care of herself and fired her, the EEOC charges.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with a disability unless the employer can show that doing so would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (EEOC v. First Title & Escrow, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 8:14-cv-03083-TDC), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"It is sad that nearly 25 years since the passage of the ADA, some employers still refuse to provide reasonable accommodations, such as part-time schedules or leave to allow employees with disabilities to remain employed," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, added, "People with disabilities are valuable contributors to the workforce. It's better for individuals, families and businesses when qualified people with disabilities are able to remain employed and to support themselves. The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Tamara Littlejohn who just want to get well as they do their jobs."
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.