$255,000 Settlement in Disability Discrimination Case Against Non-Profit Health Care System

Monday, August 6, 2012

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  has settled a disability discrimination lawsuit against Banner  Health, headquartered in Phoenix. The EEOC had charged the company with breaching  a mediation agreement it entered into, and firing and failing to accommodate an  employee because he had a disability. Banner Health operates in Colorado,  Nebraska, Arizona,  California, Nevada,  Wyoming, and Alaska. It is one of the largest non-profit health  care systems in the country.

According to the EEOC’s suit, EEOC  v. Banner Health, CV-10-01432-SRB, filed in U.S. District Court for the  District of Arizona in Phoenix, Banner Health (formerly called Banner Mesa  Lutheran) hired Lee Fladmo in 1984 as a kitchen worker/dietary aide. Fladmo has an intellectual disability;  however, he could perform his job if he received supervision sensitive to his  needs. During the course of his  employment at Banner, Fladmo had made numerous requests for reasonable  accommodation which were ignored.

In 2002, following a charge of discrimination filed with the EEOC,  Banner entered into a mediated settlement in which it promised that it would  not take any actions with respect to Fladmo’s employment without addressing  them to his brother, who had his power of attorney. Some three years later, Fladmo made another  request for an accommodation, which Banner refused to offer and did not discuss  with his brother, breaching the mediation agreement, and ultimately fired him.

Such alleged conduct  violates the Americans  with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against  qualified individuals with disabilities, and requires employers to provide  reasonable accommodations to enable their employees to work, absent undue  hardship

In addition to the settlement requiring Banner  to pay $255,000 to the Lee Fladmo Special Needs Trust, the company also must  provide training at the Banner Gateway site for its managerial and supervisory  employees on disability discrimination, develop policies prohibiting disability  discrimination, if necessary, and post a notice that disability discrimination  is unlawful and will not be tolerated.

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