$190,000 Settlement in Disability Discrimination Case Against Kidney Care Provider

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nationwide healthcare provider Dialysis Clinic, Inc. has agreed to pay $190,000 to a former employee with breast cancer and furnish other relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to EEOC's lawsuit, Dialysis Clinic violated federal law by firing and then refusing to rehire a long-time nurse who needed more medical leave to complete her treatment for breast cancer. Francisca Lee had worked as a nurse at the company's Sacramento Southgate location for 14 years when she took medical leave for mastectomy surgery and chemotherapy treatments. After four months, Dialysis Clinic notified Lee by mail that she was being terminated for exceeding the time limit dictated by its medical leave policy, the EEOC said. This was done despite Lee being on approved medical leave and cleared by her doctor to return to work without restrictions in less than two months. Lee was told that she would have to reapply for open positions. However, when Lee did apply two months later, she was rejected, and, not long after, Dialysis Clinic hired a newly licensed nurse.

Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. Providing an extended medical leave can be a reasonable accommodation. After an investigation by EEOC investigator Monica Colunga and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Dialysis Clinic, Inc., 2:14-cv-01623-TLN-KJN) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

According to the consent decree settling the suit, Dialysis Clinic has agreed to pay $190,000 in damages; revise its policies concerning reasonable accommodation; provide anti-discrimination training to human resources personnel; and post notices regarding the lawsuit. In addition, the employer will periodically report to the EEOC on its handling of extended medical leave requests.

Dialysis Clinic is a Nashville, Tenn.-based nonprofit corporation serving patients with advanced kidney disease. It has over 5,000 employees, and operates over 210 dialysis clinics in 27 states, including three locations in the Sacramento area.

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