Doctor's Contract Terminated for Taking Prescribed Medications, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA - Two Atlanta physicians groups, Georgia Hospitalists Group, LLC and ApolloMD Business Services, LLC, violated federal law by firing a doctor because he was taking legally prescribed narcotic medications, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 28, 2016.
According to EEOC's suit, around July 2013, Dr. Alunda Hunt signed a contract with Georgia Hospitalists Group to provide medical services to patients at Spalding Regional Medical Center in Griffin, Ga. ApolloMD Business Services was responsible for managing the doctors under contract with Georgia Hospitalists Group.
Around Oct. 10, 2013, Dr. Hunt provided ApolloMD with a note from his doctor indicating that he was being treated for a medical condition with narcotic pain medications. According to the doctor's note, Dr. Hunt was compliant with his treatment and was not experiencing any negative side effects. However, within days of providing the note to ApolloMD, Dr. Hunt was removed from the work schedule and his contract was terminated. EEOC charged that Dr. Hunt was unlawfully fired because of an actual disability and because he was perceived to be disabled due to his use of legally prescribed narcotic medications.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Georgia Hospitalists Group, LLC and ApolloMD Business Services, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-3640) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Dr. Hunt, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.
"Employers have an obligation to conduct individualized assessments when they have a concern about an employee's ability to safely perform his or her job duties," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable when they summarily dismiss employees based on unsubstantiated fears about a perceived disability."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.