Hospital Refused to Provide Leave Time as a Reasonable Accommodation to a Class of Employees, Federal Agency Charged
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, Inc., a private community healthcare system comprised of 2 hospitals, multiple specialty care centers, three residency programs, and 32 affiliated physician practices, will pay $375,000 to a class of employees and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Tallahassee Memorial violated federal law by maintaining an inflexible 12-week maximum leave policy. The EEOC also alleged that when employees with disabilities requested additional leave beyond the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Tallahassee Memorial denied the requests, rather than engaging in an interactive process with each individual to determine if he or she could be accommodated.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-00417-MW-CAS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $375,000 in monetary relief, the consent decree settling the lawsuit provides for extensive injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from disability discrimination. This includes Tallahassee Memorial appointing a trained ADA Coordinator that will make all decisions concerning requests for reasonable accommodations, conducting mandatory training for human resources personnel, managers and employees, and reporting of all requests for reasonable accommodations denied by Tallahassee Memorial to the EEOC. In addition, Tallahassee Memorial has changed its leave policy such that it will determine on an individualized basis whether employees with disabilities can be accommodated by additional leave beyond the FMLA.
Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC's Tampa Field Office, said, "The ADA requires employers to assess each employee's request for an accommodation on an individualized basis, rather than having blanket policies that apply across the board."
Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District added, "We are pleased that Tallahassee Memorial worked with us to craft a positive resolution that not only compensates the class for their losses, but also provides for policy changes designed to protect current and future employees from disability discrimination."
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.