Health Care Organization Refused to Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Doctor With Epilepsy, Federal Agency Charged
MIAMI - Baptist Health South Florida, Inc., one of the largest health care organizations in South Florida employing approximately 14,000 individuals at eight facilities, will pay $215,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's suit alleged that Baptist Health South Florida and Doctor's Hospital discriminated against a general practitioner when they reversed their decision to accommodate the doctor's epilepsy by permitting her to limit her workday to eight hours a day. Ultimately, the EEOC said, the company fired her because of her disability.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees unless it causes an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit, (EEOC v. Baptist Health South Florida, et al., Case No.: 13-21411-CIV-KING), in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the lawsuit requires live training annually for management officials, human resources personnel and recruiting personnel at Doctor's Hospital with an emphasis on disability discrimination and the exploration of modified work schedules as a reasonable accommodation. The decree also requires the posting of a notice explaining the lawsuit. Further, the decree mandates written reports describing all internal complaints of disability discrimination and monitoring by the EEOC for two years. The monetary award includes back pay and compensatory damages.
"An important goal of the ADA is to allow qualified disabled workers an opportunity to work," said regional attorney Robert E. Weisberg of the Miami District Office. "If that requires a reasonable accommodation in the form of a modified work schedule which causes no hardship to the employer, then it should be done."
The EEOC's Miami District director, Malcolm Medley, added, "A health care facility should especially understand the importance of non-discrimination regardless of disabilities. We will combat job discrimination against people with disabilities wherever we find it, however unlikely the place where it occurs."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.