A Sacramento dialysis clinic has been accused of disability discrimination, according to a lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the lawsuit, a nurse at the clinic had been working at its location in south Sacramento for 14 years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The nurse took medical leave to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Four months later, the company notified her by mail that she was being fired because she took too much time off from work, which violated the clinic’s medical leave policy. The clinic’s policy was to fire employees who were unable to return to work within 30 days after they have exhausted their 12 week leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The woman was fired in spite of the fact that doctors had cleared her to return to work in less than two months.
The nurse was told that she would have to reapply for an open position in order to continue working with the clinic. However, when she did apply two months later, she was not hired because the clinic said that there was no work available. Just a few months later, the company hired a newly-licensed nurse. Fortunately, the woman was able to find another full-time job with a different dialysis company. She filed a complaint with the EEOC, which alleges that it tried to settle the case before filing the lawsuit.
The EEOC alleges that the clinic’s actions violate federal employment law and that the clinic is guilty of disability discrimination. The company denies the allegations, saying that it is proud of its record of accommodating employees with disabilities, and that it has a different account of what happened. The EEOC is seeking back pay and benefits for the nurse, as well as compensation for past and future monetary losses caused by its illegal practices. It’s also asking that the company be prevented from discriminating against workers in the future.
The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to fire a qualified employee because of a disability. The law also requires the employers provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or a job applicant with a disability, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Although federal law only requires employers to provide employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical issues, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities such as cancer. The better thing for the company to do would have been to have allowed the long-term employee to return to her job, since her doctor cleared her to return to work in less than two months anyway.
It’s unfortunate that many employers choose to disregard federal and state employment laws. When an employer violates the law, that employer can be sued in federal or state court by the employee or by the EEOC. The employee may be awarded back pay, unpaid benefits, and damages for emotional distress and more. The employer may also be required to pay attorney’s fees and court costs.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employers should not be allowed to violate the rights of disabled employees and get away with it. Instead, they should be held accountable in court. If you have a disability and you believe your rights have been violated by your employer, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland disability discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. Ms. Liberty works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area, including Fairfield, Tracy, Hayward, Berkeley, San Jose, and the surrounding areas. Call today for your free consultation.