St. Vincent settles disability-discrimination lawsuit from EEOC

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St. Vincent Health has agreed to pay $15,000 to a former employee and increase worker training to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September, the EEOC announced Wednesday.

The EEOC’s suit accused St. Vincent of refusing to accommodate a worker who had lifting restrictions due to a disability, then firing her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The federal agency filed the case in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of employee Latoya Moore, who had worked as a patient care administrative technician at the Indianapolis hospital since 2008.

According to the EEOC, when St. Vincent learned of Moore’s lifting restrictions, the hospital required her to take leave at reduced pay instead of transferring her to a vacant position she was qualified for and could perform. The hospital later fired her.

The EEOC filed suit under the ADA, which prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual because of disabilities.

In addition to paying Moore $15,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages, the hospital agreed to begin notifying employees whose disabilities prevent them from performing the essential functions of their existing positions that reassignment to a vacant position for which they are qualified is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

The health system also agreed to provide training on ADA requirements to appropriate personnel, and submit annual compliance reports to the EEOC over a two-year term.

“This lawsuit demonstrates that employers should be aware of their obligation to provide a transfer as a reasonable accommodation for employees who are qualified individuals with disabilities,” EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird said in a written statement.
St. Vincent is owned by Ascension Health, based in St. Louis, the nation's largest Catholic health system.

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