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Worker Wrongfully Fired After Being Denied Leave For Surgery EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit Alleges

Street Sign EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

For the past twenty years, our Ocala, Florida employment discrimination attorneys have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims. Having represented employment discrimination victims for more than two decades, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers know that employees with a serious health condition are often the victims of unlawful employment discrimination. Instead of granting employees with a serious health condition a leave of absence for treatment and recovery, many employers summarily terminate their employment. In this article, our Ocala, Florida employment discrimination attorneys explain how a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that employers may be required by federal employment discrimination law to provide employees with a serious health condition with a leave of absence for treatment and recovery.

Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

On June 28, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has settled a disability discrimination lawsuit against National Spine & Pain Centers, LLC (NSPC). On January 9, 2020, the EEOC filed the disability discrimination lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. National Spine & Pain Centers, LLC,  Case No. 8:20-cv-00065, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day on June 28, 2021, NSPC agreed to pay $75,000 to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit.

Employment Discrimination Victims’ Rights

The EEOC brought the disability discrimination lawsuit pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended by the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, on behalf of a former employee of NSPC, Ronda Terrell (Terrell). Under the ADA, employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees with a disability. The ADA also obligates employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations for their disability. The ADA specifically provides that reasonable accommodations can include job restructuring, part-time work, and reassignment to a vacant position. In interpreting the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirement, courts have also determined that a leave of absence or leave extension for medical treatment and recovery can constitute a reasonable accommodation. When an employee is denied a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability, the employee has been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA. The EEOC alleges that NSPC violated the ADA when it terminated Terrell because she needed medical leave to undergo and recovery from a lumpectomy.

Employee Claims Discriminatory Discharge

In 2016, Terrell was hired by NSPC to work as a patient services coordinator at its office in Harrisonburg, Virginia. On January 12, 2017, Terrell informed NSPC that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be undergoing a lumpectomy on January 24, 2017. At that time, Terrell also requested a medical leave of absence for one week following her surgery. The EEOC maintains that Terrell’s breast cancer is a disability within the meaning of the ADA. The EEOC further maintains that by asking for a leave of absence for medical treatment and recovery relating to her disability, Terrell requested a reasonable accommodation for her disability.

When she requested a leave of absence for medical treatment and recovery relating to her disability, Terrell was not eligible for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because she had not been employed by NSPC for one year. On January 13, 2017, NSPC issued a letter to Terrell terminating her employment because she required time off from work for a medical condition and was not yet eligible for leave under the FMLA. Although Terrell was not eligible for FMLA leave, the EEOC contends that NSPC was required by the ADA to accommodate Terrell’s disability by granting her a leave of absence. In denying her a reasonable accommodation and summarily terminating her employment, the EEOC maintains, NSPC discriminated against Terrell on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA.

Attorneys For Discrimination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As part of its statutory mission to eradicate discriminatory employment practices from the American workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including disability discrimination victims.

In a press release issued by the EEOC on June 28, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, Debra Lawrence, stated that “it is crucial for employers to understand their obligations under both the FMLA and ADA.” “A disabled employee may be entitled to leave under the ADA,” Ms. Lawrence observed, “even if she is not eligible for leave under the FMLA.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office, Mindy E. Weinstein, observed that “employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees undergoing treatment for cancer.”

Ocala, FL Employment Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida employment discrimination attorneys have litigated employment discrimination lawsuits in Florida courts for more than twenty years. If you have been a victim of employment discrimination or have questions about your rights as an employment discrimination victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida employment discrimination lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes 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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