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Nursing home operator agrees to settle EEOC bias suit

Nursing home operator agrees to settle EEOC bias suit

A nursing home operator has agreed to pay $465,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit, the agency said Wednesday.

The EEOC said in its statement that Aurora, New York-based Absolut Facilities Management LLC, which conducts business as Absolut Care LLC, failed to accommodate disabled workers, denied leave as a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, refused to allow disabled employees to return to work unless they could do so without medical restrictions, and subjected employees to impermissible disability-related inquiries and medical exams.

The EEOC also charged the company, which operates 12 facilities, with firing employees because of their pregnancy and failing to accommodate pregnancy-related medical restrictions.

The firm was charged with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

In addition to paying $40,000 in lost wages and damages to the former employee who filed the initial discrimination charge, the company will pay $425,000 into a class action settling fund to compensate other victims, the EEOC said in its statement.

A three-year decree also requires Absolut Care to revise its leave of absence discipline and attendance policies and to train its personnel on their legal obligations under Title VII and the ADA as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Kevin Berry, director of the EEOC’s New York District Office, said in the statement, “Federal law makes it crystal-clear that employers have a duty to accommodate employees with disabilities. It is impermissible and unlawful to fire an employee who exhausts her leave under the Family Medical Leave Act — or other medical leave — without considering additional leave or a job modification that would enable her to return to work.”

Absolut’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

In August, a Coca-Cola Co. unit agreed to pay $2.25 million and improve its disability leave practices policy under an agreement with the EEOC.





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