Hospital Refuses to Hire Applicant Due to Fibromyalgia, Federal Agency Charges
DENVER – The Children’s Hospital in Colorado intentionally and unlawfully discriminated against an applicant for hire due to her disability, fibromyalgia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Cecilia McMurray applied for a staff assistant position with the Colorado Children’s Healthcare Access Program in Pediatric Medicine. After three interviews, McMurray was offered the position of staff assistant II, contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment health screen. Following a medical exam by Dr. Henry J. Roth arranged by The Children’s Hospital, a human resources consultant with The Children’s Hospital called McMurray and told her that the offer was being withdrawn due to her fibromyalgia. According to Dr. Roth, the only job function of the staff assistant II position that McMurray could not perform was “long periods of sitting and computer/telephone work” because she was restricted to no more than 45 minutes in a static posture. The EEOC contends that The Children’s Hospital could have accommodated this restriction and was required to do so under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Children’s Hospital., Case No. 11-cv-02104-REB-CBS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting further discrimination by the employer and mandating corrective action, including hiring McMurray to the staff assistant position.
“This employer could easily have accommodated Ms. McMurray’s disability without disadvantaging anyone,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “The ADA prohibits an employer from using the results of a pre-employment medical exam to deny employment to a qualified individual with a disability. A hospital should especially have understood that. The EEOC will protect the rights of job applicants who are denied employment for discriminatory reasons.”
EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko added, "The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 14.8 percent in 2010, well above the figure of 9.4 percent for those with no disability.This nation has committed to making accommodations in the workplaceso individuals with disabilities can work and contribute to society."
Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.