Baptist Health South Florida Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Physician With Epilepsy Denied a Reasonable Accommodation and Fired by Coral Gables Doctor's Hospital, Federal Agency Charged

MIAMI - Baptist Health South Florida, a Miami-based hospital system, violated federal law when it refused a reasonable scheduling request from a newly hired physician with epilepsy at its Doctor's Hospital location in Coral Gables, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, a new hire, Dr. Lianette Campos-Sackley, applied for a position at Doctor's Hospital's Gamma Knife Center as a general medical practitioner under the direction of Dr. Aizik Wolf.  During her initial interview with Dr. Wolf, Dr. Campos-Sackley notified him that she had epilepsy, which required her to not exceed an eight-hour work day.  Dr. Wolf agreed to Dr. Campos-Sackley's scheduling request and, after she interviewed with other members of the Doctor's Hospital staff, she was ultimately hired.  

However, as soon as she began working, Dr. Wolf altered the pre-determined schedule and demanded that Dr. Campos-Sackley work additional hours, which caused her health to rapidly deteriorate.  Dr. Campos-Sackley consulted with hospital management and renewed her request for a reasonable accommodation in the form of a modified work schedule, but the request was denied.  Within a few days, Dr. Campos-Sackley was terminated. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' disabilities as long as this causes no harm to the business.  

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Baptist Health South Florida, Case No. 1:13-cv-21411) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, after attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation.    

"Americans with disabilities are regularly faced with issues relating to their health," said the EEOC's regional attorney in Miami, Robert E. Weisberg.  "Whether or not they will be able to remain employed should not be one of them."

EEOC Miami District Director Malcolm Medley commented, "When people are qualified and able to perform the essential functions required of their desired positions, they should not be ill-treated based on their disabilities or their requested accommodations." 

One of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA.  

Baptist Health South Florida is a not-for-profit health care organization that manages six hospitals, an outpatient facility and a heart institute.  Doctor's Hospital is one of its affiliated hospitals in Coral Gables. 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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