Home Health Services Provider Placed Employee on Unpaid Leave After She Requested a Limited Period of Telework, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA – Gentiva Health Services, Inc. d/b/a Kindred at Home (“Kindred”), a provider of home health services, including nursing and rehabilitation assistance, violated federal law when it failed to accommodate an employee in its purchasing department and instead placed her on involuntary unpaid leave because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Kindred learned that one of its employees suffered from Morton’s Neuroma and capsulitis of the metatarsophalangeal joint of both feet. The employee initially asked to telecommute for three weeks in accordance with her doctor’s recommendation to stay off her feet, as an accommodation for her disability. Kindred originally allowed her to telework for a week but then reversed its decision and unilaterally placed her on unpaid leave without benefits for four months, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination based on a disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Gentiva Health Services, Inc. d/b/a Kindred at Home, Civil Action No. 1:20-CV-3936-MHC-AJB) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.
“In the absence of undue hardship, an employer’s refusal to accommodate its employee with a limited period of telework where the employee has demonstrated the ability to perform the essential functions of the position from home violates the law,” said Robert Weisberg, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC is committed to seeking relief for workers who are harmed by such discriminatory practices.”
Darrell Graham, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC will continue to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities and enforce federal civil rights laws in the workplace.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.