So Sue Me: One MORE "Low Hanging Fruit" Case in 2018
Well, I was wrong – my post last week was not the last one of the year, as I had promised, dealing with the EEOC’s targeting of “low hanging fruit.” That is, targeting health care providers for alleged disability law violations.
These cases are coming fast and furious.
The EEOC just reached a “voluntary conciliation agreement” with Metropolitan Jewish Health System (MJHS) “to resolve allegations of disability discrimination raised by a former employee who filed a charge with the EEOC alleging she was denied a reasonable accommodation and discharged in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA).”
This means that MJHS denied all wrongdoing, but nonetheless paid the employee $132,000.
If you did not get a chance to read my prior post, I described why I refer to this type of ADA case as the EEOC targeting “low hanging fruit.”
“What is it,” I have asked repeatedly, “about health and medical care facilities that brings down the heavy hand of the EEOC so often, alleging ADA and pregnancy discrimination? Is it that the helping profession somehow has an innate bias against the disabled and against pregnant women, and discriminates more than other employers?”
“Or, could it be,” I’ve wondered, “that the EEOC sees such health care folks as fat, juicy targets — for example, accusing the helping profession, which is there to treat the sick, disabled and pregnant, of disability discrimination surely attracts the inevitable sanctimonious media attention. Alleging that doctors discriminate on the basis of disability against the very folks that they are there to minister is sure to bolster a somewhat battered EEOC image.”
I have dubbed the EEOC’s targeting of such health care folks as their plucking “low hanging fruit” and “shooting fish in a barrel.”
If you had any doubt about the EEOC relishing these cases, read the following quote from the EEOC related to this new “conciliation agreement”:
“We appreciate that MJHS was founded upon core values of compassion, dignity and respect and this agreement is consistent with those values.”
For all health care providers out there who follow this blog you know that if the EEOC was forced to file a lawsuit in this matter, it would use the same phrase, “core values of compassion, dignity and respect,” as a cudgel to batter MJHS – a health care provider! – in the media.
This was my takeaway last week:
As I noted many times before, you must engage in an interactive process with a requesting employee who is pregnant or who has a disability to seek a reasonable accommodation that is not unduly burdensome to you.
It isn’t that difficult and usually not particularly expensive to arrive at a “reasonable accommodation” – at least compared to the cost of litigation and settlement.
And if you are a heath care or medical facility, be aware – be very aware – that if you fail to do this you are inviting EEOC intervention, if not taunting the EEOC to target you!