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University of Maryland doctors group settles EEOC disability bias suit

Posted On: Feb. 20, 2013 12:00 AM CST

The Baltimore-based University of Maryland Faculty Physicians Inc. will pay $92,500 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which it was charged with failing to accommodate and terminating an employee with Crohn's disease who had asked for an extra unpaid day off.

The EEOC said Tuesday that Doneen King, a medical practice representative whose duties included answering phones and scheduling appointments, was unable to work for two weeks while undergoing treatment for her disability, which included two emergency room visits and a hospitalization.

The EEOC said that when Ms. King asked for an additional day of unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation, the medical practice terminated her instead. The physicians group coordinates and supports the University of Maryland School of Medicine's clinical activities.

The EEOC said the practice’s lateness and attendance policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, because it did not provide for exceptions or modifications to the attendance policy as reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.

In addition to the $92,500 in monetary relief to Ms. King, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuits requires the practice to revise its lateness and absenteeism policy to permit reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities, among other provisions.

Spencer H. Lewis Jr., district director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia district office, said in a statement, “It is not only a good business practice to provide reasonable and inexpensive accommodations that allow employees with disabilities to remain employed, it is required by federal law.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Maryland School of Medicine had no comment.