Health Care Provider Refused Accommodation to Employee With Breast Cancer, Then Fired Her, Federal Agency Charged
July 14, 2011 - BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. (JHHCG), a full-service home health care provider, violated federal law when it fired an employee because of her disability and because she challenged the company's failure to accommodate her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, JHHCG had employed Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered nurse, as a pediatric case manager since 2003. According to the complaint, Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2009 and shortly thereafter began medical treatment for her disability. JHHCG refused to provide Fisher with reasonable accommodations to enable her to return to work in a pediatric case manager job or an appropriate alternate position, despite Fisher's being released to return to work with limited restrictions that were phased out and ultimately eliminated. As a result of JHHCG's refusal to reasonably accommodate her, Fisher filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. The EEOC said that Fisher was subsequently subjected to adverse employment actions, including termination, in retaliation for her having filed the charge.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 11-cv-01911) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks injunctive relief and punitive damages as well as lost wages and benefits because of JHHCG's discrimination.
"Federal law clearly obligates employers to work with disabled employees to determine how best to accommodate them," said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. "Further, retaliating against someone for filing a discrimination charge is unlawful, and the EEOC will continue to vigorously prosecute cases where the employer has punished an employee for simply exercising her rights under the law."
According to the company's website, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. is owned and operated by Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins University and has been servicing Maryland since 1983.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.