Hospital Fired Nurse Because of Her Cancer Treatments, Federal Agency Charges
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Angel Medical Center, Inc., a full-service critical access hospital located in Franklin, N.C., unlawfully refused to accommodate a nurse's need for cancer treatments and subsequently fired her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Susan Williams worked for Angel Medical Center starting on Dec. 7, 2009 as a full-time registered nurse. In December 2011, Williams returned to work following extensive treatment for cancer. At the time she returned to work, she still had five chemotherapy treatments to undergo. According to the suit, Williams sought an accommodation that would allow her to complete the needed chemotherapy treatments while remaining a full-time employee. The EEOC alleges that the hospital refused to accommodate Williams and instead terminated her employment.
This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations unless doing so would be an undue hardship for the employer. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Bryson City Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Angel Medical Center, Inc.; Civil Action No. 2:13-CV-00034) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
"One would hope that hospitals and other health care facilities would understand and respect an employee's need for an accommodation resulting from cancer treatments," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District. "This case should remind all employers that they must work with employees in resolving such needs."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.