$146,000 Settlement in Disability Discrimination Case Against Medical Facility, Training Ordered

Friday, October 5, 2012

Question:  Would disability discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center will pay $146,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC had charged that the center violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by prohibiting applicants and employees from working if they were taking legally prescribed narcotic medications.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. New Hanover Regional Medical Center; Civil Action No. 7:09-CV-0085), Elizabeth Saunders, Mary Eubanks, Allison Burge and other similarly situated applicants and employees were denied hire or placed on leave by the medical center because they were taking prescribed narcotic medications.  The complaint alleged that such action was taken because New Hanover perceived persons taking narcotic medications as being disabled as defined by the ADA.  

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

In addition to the $146,000 in damages to be divided among the claimants, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that New Hanover Regional Medical Center revise its alcohol and drug abuse policy, its post-employment offer medical assessment policy and its medical examination policy.  The company must also provide annual training to its managers and supervisors on the ADA and that ADA's prohibition against disability discrimination in the workplace.  New Hanover Regional Medical Center must also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as provide periodic reports to the EEOC.  

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