If You Were A Health Provider Named “Mercy” or “Dignity” Would You Discriminate Against A Blind Employee And One With MS?

Unless you read this blog, you would think that “you can’t make this stuff up!” Readers: you know better.

How long have I been flogging health care providers with the notion that the EEOC finds them easy pickins’ when it comes to discrimination against employees with disabilities and those who are pregnant?

Think of it (for the EEOC for sure does) – how does it look that the folks in the caring profession don’t care about their disabled or pregnant employees?

Not good.

(1) How fast would you settle if you were a hospice named Mercy who has been accused by the EEOC of refusing to allow a nurse with multiple sclerosis to return from a medical leave with restrictions?

(2) How much would you pay if you were a place called Dignity Health with a hospital named Mercy which has been accused by the EEOC of ultimately firing a nurse who lost her sight?

Likely answers: (1) Fast, and (2) $570,000.

Mercy Hospice of Michigan provides in-home hospice care for terminally ill patients. The EEOC claimed that it discriminated against a nurse with multiple sclerosis by refusing to accommodate her request for return from a medical leave with restrictions – it fired her.

And San Francisco-based Dignity Health will pay $570,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a former food service technician at its Mercy Medical Center (remember: can’t make this up!) for 10 years until she lost her sight because of an illness. When she attempted to obtain an accommodation after losing her vision (“certain equipment, such as a talking digital thermometer, could help her perform the same work she had done in the past’), she was ultimately fired.

And, oh yes, I forgot to mention Good Samaritan Hospital which agreed to pay $195,000 to settle an EEOC matter in which t was alleged that it fired an employee who asked for disability-related leave.


You can’t make this stuff up.

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]