Disability discrimination remains a hot button issue in the workplace. Employees and applicants file more disability discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year, totaling some 25,000 charges in fiscal year 2011 alone.
The EEOC also is becoming more aggressive in pursuing employers who deny reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. In December 2012, the EEOC sued Britthaven, Inc. and its successor, Principle Long Term, Inc., a nursing and rehabilitation center in North Carolina, for firing an employee with breast cancer who was approved for a four-to-six week leave for surgery, but later denied an additional month of leave due to her medical condition. At the same time, the EEOC targeted another nursing home operator in North Carolina, Camden Place Health & Rehab, L.L.C., which required all of its certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to supervise residents’ scheduled smoking breaks. One CNA who suffered from asthma complained that the cigarette smoke aggravated her condition, and asked to be excused from supervising smoke breaks. The company denied her accommodation request and fired her for refusing to continue supervising the breaks.
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