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Press Release 06-28-2021

National Spine & Pain Centers to Pay $75,000 to Settle EEOC Suit for Disability Discrimination

Medical Practice Failed to Reasonably Accommodate an Employee With Breast Cancer, Federal Agency Says

WASHINGTON – National Spine & Pain Centers, LLC, a Rockville, Md.-based medical practice with over 60 offices in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, will pay $75,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, National Spine & Pain Centers denied leave to a patient services coordinator who had breast cancer. The EEOC alleged that the employee notified the company that she would require several weeks of medical leave so that she could undergo and recover from a lumpectomy. According to the lawsuit, National Spine & Pain Centers discharged the employee because she was not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires
employers to provide reasonable accommodations, including medical leave, to employees with disabilities unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 8:20-cv-00065) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to providing the former employee $75,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides programmatic relief intended to prevent further disability discrimination. The decree requires National Spine & Pain Centers to modify its companywide ADA reasonable accommodation policy to ensure that it will engage in an interactive process to consider requests for leave as a reasonable accommodation. Under the decree, the company will also provide training on ADA compliance, with an emphasis on reasonable accommodations, and it will provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

“It is crucial for employers to understand their obligations under both the FMLA and the ADA,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “A disabled employee may be entitled to leave under the ADA even if she is not eligible for leave under the FMLA.”

Mindy E. Weinstein, director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office, added, “Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees undergoing treatment for cancer – absent undue hardship. The EEOC takes seriously a company’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations, including leave, and we are committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA.”

The 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.