Mercy Hospice Sued By EEOC for Disability Bias
Nurse Fired When She Tried to Return to Work After Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charges
Mercy Hospice, a member of the Trinity Home Health System, violated federal law by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled nurse and then firing her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC's lawsuit (EEOC v. Mercy Hospice, Case No. 2:12CV13803), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, charged that Mercy Hospice in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., terminated Patricia Barriger when she tried to return to work from a medical leave of absence. Instead of providing her with a reasonable accommodation, the company discharged her because, according to the company, she was an inactive employee who was not entitled to an accommodation.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"The ADA protects employees, even if they are on medical leave," explained EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell. "Employees like Ms. Barriger who are capable of working, with or without a reasonable accommodation, should be allowed to continue despite their disabilities."
The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for the employee, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
A member of Trinity Home Health Services, Mercy Hospice provides end-of-life in-home services to patients suffering from terminal illnesses.