BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced April 27 that Harbor Hospital Inc., trading as MedStar Hospital, will pay $179,576 after allegations of federal disability discrimination.
“Health care providers, like all employers, must be mindful of the obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation that allows an employee with a disability to remain employed,” said EEOC Philadelphia district office director Spencer H. Lewis Jr. “It’s not only a good employment practice to retain loyal and productive workers; it’s required by federal law.”
According to EEOC, MedStar Harbor Hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired Jerome Alston, a respiratory therapist, because of his disability. Alston had had a kidney transplant and needs to take medications. These medications weaken his immune system. Alston asked for a “work-around” accommodation, so that he would not have to work in isolation rooms with a mechanical ventilation system designed to trap infectious airborne materials. MedStar did not grant him the accommodation and fired him instead, EEOC said.
“An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability such as renal failure, whether it is needed because of limitations caused by the disability itself or by the side effects of medication or treatment for the disability,” said EEOC regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “We are pleased that MedStar Harbor Hospital took these claims seriously, cooperated in resolving this matter, and agreed to make meaningful policy changes to ensure that its employees and applicants are protected from disability discrimination and receive the accommodations to which they are entitled under the ADA.”