$100K will settle suit over employee discharged after returning from medical leave

The EEOC announced that Apria Healthcare Inc. has agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired an employee a week after she returned from medical leave to remove a 23-pound tumor. Although the Albuquerque medical equipment and services provider asserted that the termination was due to a reduction-in-force, the employee was not given notice of the impending layoff, and another warehouse clerk’s position was not considered for elimination, the EEOC said.

The company purportedly decided to lay off the employee just two days after she provided notice of her medical restrictions. She was then left without medical insurance or the ability to receive follow-up medical care after her surgery, according to the EEOC. In addition to the monetary relief, Apria will provide the employee with a letter of apology and a reference letter. The consent decree settling the case also requires Apria to provide its New Mexico supervisors, managers, non-managerial employees, and HR employees with annual training for three years; review its current EEO policies to ensure there is a strong and clear commitment to prevent unlawful disability discrimination; ensure that the policies are made available to its current workforce; and for three years report to EEOC on any complaints of disability discrimination or requests for accommodation in its New Mexico locations.

“The timing of the reduction-in-force in this lawsuit was suspect and it was particularly difficult for [the employee], who had not yet recovered from surgery,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “It is important for employees to know they are entitled to request and avail themselves of reasonable accommodations to perform their essential job functions without fear of facing termination from their employment.”

SOURCE: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/9-1-16a.cfm

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