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PRESS RELEASE
3-16-20

Medstar Washington Hospital Center / Medstar Health to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

Hospital Refused to Accommodate Employee Disabled by Workplace Injury, Federal Agency Charged

WASHINGTON - Washington Hospital Center Corporation, doing business as MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and MedStar Health, Inc. will pay $150,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit, Melissa Boyd was working for MedStar as a patient care tech­nician when she sustained a disabling knee injury on the job. After that, Boyd's doctors released her to return to work with restrictions on walking and standing. MedStar initially permitted Boyd to work in a temporary modified duty assignment, but after a few months told her she could no longer work in that assignment and sent her home. Although MedStar had numerous openings in jobs Boyd was qualified to perform with her restrictions, MedStar did not reassign her to any of them.

Boyd filed an internal grievance and filed a disability discrimination charge with the EEOC. Shortly afterwards, MedStar decided Boyd could not be reassigned to any position, supposedly because she might need surgery in the future, and Boyd was never permitted to return to work again.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination and retaliation, including the failure to provide reasonable accommodations to enable an individual with a disability to perform her job or to consider reassignment as a reasonable accommodation. The ADA also prohibits retaliation for seeking accommodations or opposing disability discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Washington Hospital Center Corporation d/b/a MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Health, Inc., Case No. 18-2160) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.

In addition to requiring payment of $150,000 in monetary relief to Boyd, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires MedStar to comply with the ADA in the future. The organization must maintain a policy prohibiting disability discrimination and retaliation and provide training to occupational health, human resources, and employee and labor relations personnel on discrimination made unlawful by the ADA, with special emphasis on reasonable accommodation. The decree requires MedStar to periodically provide information to EEOC about employee requests for accommodations and MedStar's responses. MedStar also must post a notice about the settlement at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and all facilities covered by the decree.

"This settlement should remind employers that they have a duty to make reasonable accommo­dations to employees with disabilities, including reassignment to a vacant position," said Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein.  

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence added, "We are pleased that this settlement provides compensation to Ms. Boyd for the discrimination she suffered and is struc­tured to protect MedStar employees from similar discrimination in the future."

The EEOC's Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.