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PRESS RELEASE
11-1-16

Sharp Healthcare To Pay $90,000 To Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Job Applicant Seeking a Surgical Technologist Position Was Perceived as Disabled and Denied Employment, Federal Agency Charged

SAN DIEGO - Sharp Healthcare, one of the largest private employers in San Diego County will pay $90,000 and furnish remedial relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to EEOC, in 2012, Sandra Juarez applied for a surgical scrub technician position at the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, a surgical center in San Diego. The applicant was offered the position contingent upon passing a post-offer medical examination. However, EEOC said that Sharp rescinded its employment offer after the exam due to a perceived disability. Sharp regarded Juarez as disabled due to a minor ankle ailment that would not have affected her job performance, EEOC said. After just a few months, the applicant was hired into the same position at another medical facility.

As part of the settlement by consent decree, Sharp, in addition to paying $90,000 to the job applicant, will retain an external equal employment monitor; review and revise disability accommodation policies and practices to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended; provide annual disability discrimination training for employees, supervisors, and managers who are involved in the accommodation process; post an employee notice; and undertake record keeping and reporting to EEOC. Among other things, the external equal employment monitor will review Sharp's policies and practices and assist Sharp with ADA compliance.

"We have seen an increase in employers failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes San Diego in its jurisdiction. "We encourage employers to ensure proper training regarding the hiring process to prevent disability discrimination and possible legal liability."

EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Sharp Healthcare, Case No. 3:15-cv-01936-H-KSC), asserting that Sharp had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The ADA prohibits employment discrimination based on an actual disability or a perceived disability.

Sandra Juarez said, "I am glad that Sharp agreed to make sure its hiring practices comply with the ADA so that people like me are no longer discriminated against and wrongly told that we cannot work due to a perceived disability. I hope others will benefit from this case because I stood up for myself with the help of the EEOC."

Christopher Green, director of EEOC's San Diego Local Office, said, "Prospective employees need to be evaluated based on their actual abilities to perform the essential functions of the job sought, not on their past medical history and stereotyping."

One of the six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to eliminate barriers in recruitment and hiring by targeting recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities which includes those perceived as disabled.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.