TAMPA, Fla. – Aspire Health Partners, a non-profit behavioral health care organization headquartered in Orlando, Florida, will pay $115,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the employee worked for Aspire for over 20 years, during which she developed and oversaw Aspire’s Village House Program, a community-based prevention program for youth in Orange and Osceola Counties. In 2015, Aspire terminated the employee after she exhausted medical leave taken due to a workplace injury. The employee’s doctor cleared her to work without restrictions shortly thereafter, and, in August 2018, the employee applied for a position within Aspire’s Village House program. Hours before her interview, the former employee was notified that she was ineligible for rehire at Aspire due to medical records in her prior workers’ compensation file.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Aspire Health Partners, Case No. 6:20-cv-1603) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $115,000 in damages, the two-and-a-half-year consent decree settling the suit requires Aspire to adopt and distribute an updated policy against disability discrimination; conduct training on disability discrimination for its human resources officials; and post a notice.
“The EEOC commends Aspire for quickly reaching a resolution that both compensates the harmed employee and provides for policy changes designed to protect future job applicants from disability discrimination,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District.
The EEOC’s Tampa Field Office director, Evangeline Hawthorne, added, “We encourage other employers to follow Aspire’s lead and review their disability policies and practices to ensure that workers are not denied opportunities based on inaccurate conclusions about their physical abilities.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov