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Press Release 09-01-2015

Sharp Healthcare Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

San Diego Surgical Center Denied Hire to Applicant Due to Perceived Disability

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Sharp HealthCare, an operator of hospitals and medical facilities, violated federal law when it denied hire to a job applicant because it perceived her as disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC, in 2012, a job applicant applied for a surgical scrub technician position at the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, a surgical center in San Diego.  The job applicant was offered the position contingent upon the passage of a post-offer medical examination.  However, EEOC said that Sharp rescinded its employment offer after the exam due to a perceived disability.  Sharp regarded her as disabled due to a minor ankle ailment that would not have affected her job performance, EEOC said.  After the denial of hire, the applicant was hired into the same position at another medical facility.  

EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (EEOC v. Sharp HealthCare, Case No. 3:15-cv-01936-H-KSC), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  In its suit, EEOC alleged that the health care provider discriminated against the job applicant due to a perceived disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  The EEOC's suit seeks back pay and compensatory damages on behalf of the applicant, and injunctive relief to prevent future disability discrimination.

"We continue to see a rise in disability-related cases in the health care industry," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District.  "It is important for employers to properly engage people with disabilities and not allow stereotypes to drive employment decisions."

Christopher Green, director of EEOC's San Diego Local Office, added, "Prospective employees need to be evaluated based on their abilities to do the essential functions of the job. Discrimination against applicants and employees based on a perception they are disabled is a violation of federal law."

One of the six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  Further information is available at