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EEOC sues hospice after it refused to provide reasonable accommodation to nurse returning from medical leave

Mercy Hospice, a member of the Trinity Home Health System, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled nurse and then firing her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) contends in a lawsuit filed on August 28.

The EEOC’s suit asserts that Mercy Hospice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, terminated Patricia Barriger when she tried to return to work from a medical leave of absence (EEOC v Mercy Hospice, EDMich, No 2:12CV13803). Instead of providing her with a reasonable accommodation, the company discharged her because, according to the company, she was an inactive employee who was not entitled to an accommodation, the EEOC said. This conduct, the commission contends, violated the ADA.

The EEOC is seeking to recover monetary compensation for the employee, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.

“The ADA protects employees, even if they are on medical leave,” explained EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell. “Employees like Ms. Barriger who are capable of working, with or without a reasonable accommodation, should be allowed to continue despite their disabilities.”