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Health care firm settles EEOC disability, pregnancy charges

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A health care company charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with imposing rigid leave policies on its disabled and pregnant employees has agreed to pay a $1.75 million settlement, the agency said Thursday.

The EEOC said Visalia, California-based Family HealthCare Network, which operates more than 20 health care sites in California, denied reasonable accommodations to its disabled and/or pregnant employees, refusing to accommodate them with additional leave, and firing them when they were unable to return to work at the end of their leaves.

The EEOC said in some instances the company discharged individuals before they had exhausted their approved leave and did not rehire them when they tried to return to work.

The company was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which permits recovery of damages in cases of intentional discrimination.

In addition to paying $1.75 million, the three-year consent decree settling the case requires Family HealthCare to implement effective training regard preventing discrimination and harassment based on disability and/or sex and pregnancy, among other provisions.

 “We commend the efforts of Family HealthCare Networks in resolving this case and providing substantial relief to those affected by the company’s policies and practices,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district, in a statement.

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

A nursing home operator agreed in October to pay $465,000 to settle a an EEOC lawsuit.