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Press Release 08-21-2019

Christus St. Vincent Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Hospital Supervisors Refused Accommodation for Deaf Employee, Federal Agency Charges

SANTA FE, N.M. - Christus Health, doing business as Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M., violated federal law by subjecting a deaf laboratory technician to disability discrimination, including harassment, and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Asheley Coriz's supervisor repeatedly harassed her during training by repeatedly yelling at her, "I've already told you how to do that once." Rather than addressing her training requests, Christus St. Vincent fired her because of her disability and her requests for accom­modation, blaming her instead for supposedly not getting trained fast enough. Coriz was also fired in retaliation for her opposing the disability discrimination, the EEOC said. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrim­ination based on disability, as well as retaliation for reporting the discriminatory workplace conduct. The ADA also requires employers to attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, absent undue hardship. 

The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v Christus Health d/b/a Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center,    Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00764 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempt­ing to reach a settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensa­tory damages and punitive damages for the charging party as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discriminatory practices in the future.

"Employers who choose to fire an employee with a disability, instead of working on reasonable accommodations, violate federal law as well as common fairness and their own self-interest," said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of discrimination victims like Asheley Coriz."

Elizabeth Cadle, District Director of EEOC's Phoenix District Office, added, "Employees who stand up and request accommodations in the workplace, which is their legal right, are to be respected and protected, not punished. This should be especially true in a place of healing."

EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).

EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.