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Catholic health system agrees to improve ADA compliance

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Presence Health, a Chicago-based Catholic health care system, has agreed to pay $500,000 to conciliate employees' disability complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said.

The conciliation, which is a voluntary resolution of the complaint, results from a multiyear EEOC investigation that found that three Presence Health hospitals discriminated against disabled employees, the EEOC said Thursday in a statement.

The agency said the discrimination occurred when Presence Health failed to return employees on medical leave to their positions and/or failed to reassign them to other positions for which they were qualified, and instead terminated them or placed them on disability leave.

In addition to providing monetary relief to those who have been discriminated against, Presence Health will conduct annual Americans with Disabilities Act training for the next three years at three of its Chicago-area hospitals, among other terms of the agreement, the EEOC said.

“This resolution is an excellent result for all of Presence Health, including former employees, who will receive compensation, and current employees, who we expect will see improved leave and accommodation processes,” Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC's Chicago district office, said in the statement. “We are pleased that Presence Health was willing to work with EEOC to improve its ADA compliance practices.”

Presence Health said in a statement that it “is pleased to have reached conciliation with the EEOC regarding these complaints. Our values as a Catholic health care organization call on us to treat employees fairly and with compassion in their personal time of need for accommodations and medical leave of absence.

“We have taken steps to ensure that staff throughout our organization is educated on the ADA and reasonable accommodation policies and procedures,” said the statement.

Earlier this week, the agency said Dallas-based AT&T Inc. agreed to pay $250,000 to settle an EEOC suit for allegedly failing to accommodate a visually impaired employee in Puerto Rico.