Press Release 05-20-2020

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center to Pay $98,000 to Settle EEOC Disability and Retaliation Suit

Hospital Subjected Deaf Woman to Disability Discrimination and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – St. Vincent Hospital (SVH), doing business as Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, will pay $98,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a St. Vincent Hospital supervisor subjected Asheley Coriz to a hostile work environment because she is deaf. The lawsuit also charged that St. Vincent Hospital failed to provide reasonable accommodations for Coriz’s deafness and fired her because of that disability, her request for reasonable accommodation, and her complaints about her supervisor’s conduct.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. St. Vincent Hospital, d/b/a Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00764-KWR-GBW) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit was signed and entered by Judge Kea W. Riggs yesterday. Under its terms, Coriz will receive $98,000 in back pay and compensatory damages. In addition, Coriz’s personnel records will be expunged, and she will receive a letter of acknowledgment from a Christus St. Vincent Medical Center manager expressing his regret that she did not feel supported concerning issues with her supervisor and her disability.

The decree also enjoins SVH from engaging in disability discrimination and retaliation and requires the hospital to revise its equal employment opportunity and reasonable accommodation policies. SVH will provide annual training to all employees at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and report to the EEOC on any complaints of disability discrimination during the decree’s term. The decree also makes the supervisor who allegedly discriminated against Coriz ineligible for rehire.

“Employers are responsible for preventing and remedying harassment of emp­loyees, including harassment because of an employee’s disability,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. “Employers will be held responsible when they retaliate against employees because they complain of discrimination or make accommodation requests.”

EEOC’s District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “We appreciate this employer’s work toward reaching an agreement that will improve its training, policies and procedures. We also appreciate the second-level manager’s decision to formally acknowledge his regret that Ms. Coriz felt unsupported when she raised concerns with the employer.”

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.