Oakland Based Hospital Accused of Violating Americans With Disabilities Act For Firing Employee With Breast Cancer
On December 13, 2013, the United Sates Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a lawsuit accusing an Oakland based medical center of violating federal anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC filed suit against the Children’s Hospital and Research Center after they terminated an office associate who had requested additional medical leave. Imelda Tamayo was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2011. After already receiving medical leave, Tamayo requested additional medical leave and was allegedly discharged on July 10, 2012 as a result of that request. The EEOC filed suit after it determined that accommodating Tamayo’s request would not have posed an undue hardship for the medical center and that the firing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
The ADA was enacted in 1990 (amended in 2008) and is a broad and powerful civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in certain circumstances. The ADA provides individuals with disabilities certain legal protections. Disability, as defined by the Act, is “…a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” Whether someone has a disability, as defined by the Act, is made on a case by case basis.
The ADA sets forth that covered entities shall not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. This applies to all facets of employment, including but not limited to: job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, job training, among other things. Under the Act, covered entities generally include any employer engaged in interstate commerce that has 15 or more workers.
The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, unless doing so would cause significant difficulties or expense to the employer. In Tamayo’s case, the EEOC alleges that the medical center failed to reasonably accommodate Tamayo’s medical condition and disability. According to an EEOC attorney commenting on the case, “Firing employees with disabilities just because they may need more medical leave than dictated by company policy violates federal law. The law requires employers to engage in an interactive process to determine what accommodations would be reasonable under the circumstances.” What is especially interesting about Tamayo’s case is that she did not have the disability when hired, but it developed during the course of her employment.
If you are a victim of employment discrimination, contact the attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group, LLP to discuss your case.