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Worker Wrongfully Fired After Being Denied Accommodation For Pregnancy EEOC Charges

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In a press release issued on February 8, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOCP announced that it has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Saint Clare’s Health (St Clare’s). On February 8, 2021, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination case, U.S. E.E.O.C v. Prime Healthcare Services-Saint Clare’s, LLC, d/b/a Saint Clare’s Health, Case No. 2:21-cv-2055, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In this article, our Lake County, Florida lawyers for employee rights explain the EEOC’s allegations of disability discrimination against St. Clare’s.

Disabled Employees’ Rights

The EEOC filed the disability discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of St. Clare’s, Taylor McKay (McKay). The ADA makes discrimination against disabled employees and applicants for employment an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. The ADA also requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees and applicants for employment. Under the ADA, reasonable accommodations include job restructuring, part-time work, reassignment to a vacant position, and a medical leave of absence. The ADA makes it an unlawful discriminatory employment practice for an employer to fail to reasonably accommodate disabled employees and applicants for employment, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would constitute an undue hardship. Thus, as pointed out by the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Selenke v. Med. Imaging of Colo., 248 F.3d 1249 (10th Cir. 2001), the ADA “establishes a cause of action for disabled employees whose employers fails to reasonably accommodate them.”

The EEOC alleges that St. Clare’s discriminated against McKay by withdrawing her job offer—effectively terminating her employment—because of her disability and failing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related disability in violation of the ADA.

Worker Claims She Was Wrongfully Fired

St. Clare’s is a provider of medical services New Jersey and operates two hospitals. On September 3, 2019, St. Clare’s offered McKay the position of Per Diem EMS Dispatcher, which McKay accepted. At the time McKay accepted the position, St. Clare’s was aware that McKay was six months pregnant and due to give birth in December 2019. St. Clare’s Human Resources Generalist, Flynn, told McKay that she would be permitted to take a multi-week unpaid leave of absence upon the birth of her child. McKay’s employment with St. Clare’s would commence with orientation. McKay’s orientation was originally scheduled to begin on October 14, 2019, but St. Clare’s later moved it to November 11, 2019.

On November 3, 2019, McKay was hospitalized and subsequently diagnosed with preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication affecting the circulatory system and posing a risk to the fetus. One of the most effective treatments for preeclampsia is delivery of the patient’s baby. On November 6, 2019, after the induction of delivery began, McKay emailed Flynn requesting to delay her start date because of preeclampsia. Only a few hours after receiving McKay’s email, Flynn left a voicemail for McKay stating, “because you are technically not an employee, I can’t hold the position for you. You certainly can apply when you’re settled and you want to re-enter the workplace.” That same day, McKay gave birth to her baby, approximately one month premature.

McKay was ultimately cleared to start work on December 17, 2019, approximately five weeks after her discharge from the hospital. At that point in time, according to the EEOC, McKay was able to perform all essential functions of the Per Diem EMS Dispatcher job. The EEOC maintains that St. Clare’s withdrew McKay’s offer of employment—effectively terminating her employment—because she had preeclampsia which required hospitalization.

Attorneys Fighting For Employees

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws, including the ADA. As part of its statutory mission of eradicating employment discrimination, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employees victimized by unlawful discriminatory employment practices, including disability discrimination. In a press release issued by the EEOC on February 8, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, Jeffrey Burstein, explained that “the law requires that employers engage with applicants and employees to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities.” “Here,” Mr. Burstein added, “the employer’s response was not engagement, but instead revocation of the individual’s job—a clear violation of the ADA.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, Judy Keenan, stated that “this case underscores that pregnancy-related disabilities are covered by the ADA.”

Lawyers For Employee Rights In Leesburg, FL

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Lake County, Florida attorneys for employee rights have fought for the rights of employees for more than two decades. If you have been subjected to discrimination at work or have questions about your protection against discrimination in the workplace, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Leesburg, Florida lawyers for employee rights. 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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