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EEOC Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Where Employee With Breast Cancer Was Refused Extended Leave

illustration of a womans mammary glands cancer

In a press release issued on June 20, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Illinois Action for Children (IAFC). On August 28, 2017, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Illinois Action for Children, Case No. 17-cv-6224, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. 

The EEOC brought the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of a former employee of IAFC, Myrnie Brown (Brown). Under the ADA, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of disability. Discrimination under the ADA includes not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an individual with a disability. A reasonable accommodation includes job restricting, part-time or modified work schedules, and a medical leave of absence from work. In this article, our Alachua County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against IAFC and the Consent Decree.

EEOC’S Allegations Of Disability Discrimination

IAFC is an Illinois child-care nonprofit agency. The EEOC claims that Brown is a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA. Brown’s disability, according to the EEOC, is breast cancer. The EEOC alleges that Brown requested a reasonable accommodation for her disability by asking for a leave of absence from work from June 2015 through November 2015. Brown notified IAFC that she needed the requested leave of absence from work due to surgery and follow up treatment for breast cancer. However, IAFC refused to grant leave beyond September 30, 2015. IAFC then terminated Brown’s employment on October 19, 2015. The EEOC claims that IAFC discriminated against Brown in violation of the ADA by denying her a reasonable accommodation of leave extension and terminating her employment while she was on leave for surgery and treatment for breast cancer.

Consent Decree Settling Discrimination Lawsuit

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer on June 18, 2019, IAFC agreed to pay $60,000 to Brown in order to resolve the disability discrimination case. In the Consent Decree, IAFC also agreed to provide training to employees with respect to the provisions of and compliance with the ADA. The EEOC also required IAFC to maintain and make available for inspection by the EEOC records detailing each request by an employee for continuous leave in excess of one week due to a medical condition for which the employee was not eligible for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. The records must include the name of the employee requesting the leave, the leave requested, the name of the employee to whom the request was made, and any decision made by IAFC regarding the leave request.

EEOC Fights For Worker Rights

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. In enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of employment discrimination, including disability discrimination. In a press release issued by the EEOC regarding the case, a Regional Attorney for EEOC, Gregory Gochanour, stated that the case “should serve as a reminder to employers that they need to consider their obligation to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA when acting on an employer’s request for extended medical leave.”

Free Consultation With Gainesville Labor Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we have represented employment discrimination victims in hundreds of cases before the EEOC. If you have experienced discrimination on the basis of disability or have questions about the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Alachua County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys. Our employment and labor law attorneys take employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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