A major health care provider Dialysis Clinic Inc. was sued for disability discrimination this week by EEOC. The lawsuit has been filed in the Eastern District Court in Sacramento.
The plaintiff Francisca Lee had worked at the company’s facility on East Southgate Drive in South Sacramento for 14 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. She took medical leave to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy, according to the allegations in the EEOC complaint. Four months later, according to the complaint, the company notified Lee by mail that she was being terminated for exceeding the time limit dictated by its medical leave policy
At the time of Lee being fired, she had been cleared by her physician to return to work without restrictions in less than two months, the complaint says. Lee, 71, was told she would have to reapply for an open position. However, when she did apply a little more than two months later, she was rejected. Not long after, according to a claim in the complaint, the company hired a newly-licensed nurse. Of course, the employer has denied all allegations like they always do.
Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and California FEHA. The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s operation.
The EEOC’s complaint alleges that it attempted to resolve the Lee matter before filing the suit through conciliation efforts, but to no avail, as the employer denied any liability and refused to engage in any settlement discussions.
“Given the ADA’s mandate, I would urge employers to be flexible concerning leave extensions if it causes no undue hardship,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “Ms. Lee has over 30 years’ experience in dialysis treatment and really wanted to work.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado posed this rhetorical question: “Why sacrifice a valuable employee with a good record over an arbitrary time limit?”
“Ms. Lee is currently working full time as a nurse for another dialysis company,” said EEOC spokeswoman Linda Li. “She loves the work and has no plans to stop anytime soon.”