Northern Indiana Operator of Mental Health Facilities Refused to Accommodate Employee With Breast Cancer
Tri-City Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center, a large Northern Indiana operator of multiple community mental health facilities, refused to accommodate an employee who required leave for breast cancer treatment, according to a lawsuit filed on November 8, 2010 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in 2009, Felicia Nichols, who worked at a Tri-City facility in Hammond, Ind., sought leave for breast cancer treatment. Tri-City failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation and then terminated her for missing work, the EEOC said.
Failing to make a reasonable accommodation for an applicant or employee with a disability who requires an accommodation to perform his or her job violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC asserts that the company’s actions were intentional and demonstrated a reckless indifference to Nichols’ federally protected rights.
The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:10-cv-00444-PPS-APR in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages against Tri-City, as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future disability discrimination.
“An employer cannot simply ignore requests for reasonable accommodation and then fire a disabled worker, telling her to reapply for employment when her condition improves,” said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office.
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. The EEOC’s Indianapolis Office is located at 101 W. Ohio Street, Suite 1900, Indianapolis, IN 46204.