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Miami health care company sued for disability discrimination

Americans are protected from experiencing discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation in the workplace under federal and state laws. Employees who feel their rights have been violated at work have the right to seek legal recourse.

Last week, a Miami health care company was accused of violating federal disability discrimination law, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The suit alleges that the health care company failed to accommodate an employee who suffered from hypertension. The employee was a hospice nurse for the company, and her job entailed visiting several nursing homes daily. This required a lot of driving, which exacerbated her hypertension, according to the suit.

The employee reportedly requested to be transferred to a vacant hospice nurse position, so that she would not have to do so much driving. The company allegedly does not accommodate disabled employees by allowing them to transfer into open positions for which they are qualified, but rather asks them to apply for the job and compete with other applicants. The employee applied for the opening, but did not receive a job offer.

"Workplace flexibility and reassigning qualified employees with disabilities not only make good business sense in the 21st century, it is required by federal law," said Malcolm Medley, director of the EEOC's Miami District Office, in an EEOC press release.

The EEOC alleges that the health care company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate this employee. The suit was reportedly filed after the EEOC attempted to reach a settlement with the company out of court. The EEOC is requesting back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, and is also asking that the company enact new training policies to prevent this company's managers and employees for practicing any further disability discrimination.

Source: U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "Vitas Healthcare Sued by EEOC in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit," Dec. 14, 2011

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