The EEOC Settles a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit for $215,000

On February 21, 2013, the Baptist Health South Florida, Inc. entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) regarding a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. Following negotiations with the EEOC, the Baptist Health South Florida, a non-profit health care organization managing several hospitals, an outpatient facility and a heart institute, agreed to pay 215,000 dollars and furnish other relief to settle the disability discrimination lawsuit.

The EEOC brought the lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Campos-Sackley, who worked at Doctor’s Hospital (one of the affiliated hospitals managed by Defendants) and suffered from epilepsy. When Dr. Campos-Sackley started working at Doctor’s Hospital, she was able to perform all of the essential functions of her position during the eight hour workday but was required to work in excess of those eight hours a day and agreed to it. However, as a result of being asked to work in excess of eight hours a day, Dr. Campos-Sackley started to experience increased fatigue which ultimately resulted in the return of her epileptic seizure. Dr. Campos-Sackley attempted to adjust her medication to avoid the seizures and consulted with a medical specialist regarding what she should do to avoid the seizures. Based on medical advice she received, she informed Doctor’s Hospital that she needed to return to an eight-hour workday, as agreed between them during the hiring process.

In its complaint, the EEOC alleged that Defendant discriminated against her when they decided to reverse the decision permitting Dr. Campos-Sackley to work only eight hours a day to accommodate her disability. The EEOC alleged in its complaint that Dr. Campos-Sackley was ultimately terminated because she suffered from epilepsy, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“). The ADA states that employers are required to make reasonable accommodation for any disabled employee. In this case, Dr. Campos-Sackley went through a “Physical Capacity Evaluation”, which indicated that she could perform all of the essential job functions with a modified schedule limiting her to work eight hours per day. This evaluation was requested by Defendant to assess her work capacity. Nevertheless, Defendant refused to reasonably accommodate her and ultimately terminated her. The EEOC stated in their complaint that the company fired her because of her disability and point to statement made by the hospital management team where they said that if Dr. Campos-Sackley was to be terminated it would not be related to her performance but to her disability. Such alleged conduct violates the ADA, which requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled employees unless it causes an undue hardship.

The settlement agreement reached between the parties requires: “live training annually for management officials, human resources personnel and recruiting personnel at Doctor’s Hospital with an emphasis on disability discrimination and the exploration of modified work schedules as a reasonable accommodation. The decree also requires the posting of a notice explaining the lawsuit. Further, the decree mandates written reports describing all internal complaints of disability discrimination and monitoring by the EEOC for two years. The monetary award includes back pay and compensatory damages.”

If you are an employee suffering from a disability and you believe you have been discriminated against, please contact the Harman Firm, P.C.