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New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates Sued by EEOC For Disability Discrimination

Company Fired Employee From Temporary Position and Denied Full-Time Hire Because of Association With Child With Disabilities, Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates, P.C., which owns and operates a medical facility in Albuquerque, discriminated against an employee because of her relationship to a person with disabilities - her toddler daughter, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, New Mexico Orthopaedics violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by terminating Melissa Yalch's temporary job assignment at their facility and failing to hire her for a full-time permanent position as a medical assistant. The reason, the EEOC said, was Yalch's daughter, who has several disabilities.

Disability discrimination, including the discrimination against relatives and associates of a disabled individual, violates the ADA. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates, P.C, 15-CV-00557, in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Workers who have to help relatives with disabilities, especially a small child, have enough challenges on their hands without being treated badly at work or even fired simply because of that association," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "Employers must comply with federal law or be subjected to the EEOC's vigorous enforcement of it."

EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick L. Newton added, "This provision of the ADA -- offering protection to persons treated adversely because of their relationships with individuals with disabilities -- is a unique and integral part of our enforcement efforts." Newton added that this is the first lawsuit of this type brought by EEOC in Albuquerque.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at