Emory University Hospital Sued By EEOC for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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Hospital Failed to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation to an Employee After Emergency Surgery, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA - Emory University Hospital, which operates in midtown Atlanta, violated federal law by denying an employee with a disability a reasonable accommodation and then unlawfully firing him for that reason, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to EEOC's suit, Civil Action No., 1:15-cv-03407, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, Emory subjected a disabled veteran, Kendall McCoy, to discrimination by denying him a two-week leave extension after he had emergency surgery. Although Emory was fully aware that McCoy was scheduled to return on Oct. 12, 2012, it hired an employee to take McCoy's position ten days before that. McCoy filed a disability discrimination charge with EEOC in January 2013.

Disability discrimination violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed its suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement with the employer through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

"One would expect that a hospital, of all places, would show understanding and fairness toward an employee who had recently had emergency surgery," said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "In this case, Emory would not have incurred an undue hardship by allowing Mr. McCoy to resume his job on his scheduled return date. His termination was unlawful, and EEOC is here to fight for people in such a position."

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the Atlanta district office, said "A leave extension can certainly be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. EEOC is committed to ensuring that employees with disabilities receive the full scope of rights available under federal law, including reasonable accommodations." 

EEOC's Atlanta District Office enforces federal employment discrimination laws in Georgia and parts of South Carolina. EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available 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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