Apria Healthcare was charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for allegedly laying off a warehouse clerk after she notified them of medical restrictions. According to the EEOC, the company will reportedly pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit for disability discrimination.
Apria Healthcare Inc. is a home medical provider that offers medical equipment and services in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As described in the EEOC's, Apria violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by firing Hilda Padilla approximately one week after she returned from medical leave to remove a 23-pound tumor. Although the company alleged the termination was due to a reduction-in-force, Padilla was not given notice of the impending layoff, while another warehouse clerk's position was not considered for elimination. The company initiated its decision to lay off Padilla only two days after she provided notice of her medical restrictions. Padilla was then left without medical insurance or the ability to receive follow-up medical care after her surgery.
The consent decree, which governs the settlement requires the following:
- Apria to provide Padilla with $100,000 in monetary relief, a letter of apology and a reference letter;
- Apria to provide its New Mexico supervisors, managers, non-managerial employees and human resources employees with annual training for three years;
- Apria will review its current equal employment opportunity policies to ensure there is a strong and clear commitment to prevent unlawful disability discrimination, and to ensure that the policies are made available to its current workforce.
- For a three-year period, Apria will also report to EEOC if there are any complaints of disability discrimination or requests for accommodation in its New Mexico locations.
Comments from the EEOC
“The timing of the reduction-in-force in this lawsuit was suspect and it was particularly difficult for Ms. Padilla, who had not yet recovered from surgery,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. “It is important for employees to know they are entitled to request and avail themselves of reasonable accommodations to perform their essential job functions without fear of facing termination from their employment.” EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick Newton added, “Employment decisions cannot be based upon impermissible factors such as an individual's medical condition or disability. Instead, employers must ensure that their decisions are rooted in non-discriminatory and legitimate factors.”
The ADA and California Employment Law
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from being subjected to discrimination in the workplace. The ADA also imposes a duty upon employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. The experienced California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can quickly answer your questions about the ADA, disability discrimination, or any of California's employment laws. To discuss these laws, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to call us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.