We'd like to think that the people who would be most sensitive to disabilities would be the people who diagnose them. Doctors and medical professionals alike are often times the people we suspect the least to be discriminatory against people with disabilities, but sometimes this isn't always the case, and these are the times when litigation is necessary.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee for list of reasons, has announced just such a case this month on behalf of a North Carolina woman who was terminated from her job at a nursing home in July 2010.
According to the lawsuit, the woman worked as a nursing assistant in the nursing home. Around January 2010, the home began requiring staff members to supervise residents during scheduled smoke breaks. But the woman found that the second-hand smoke aggravated her asthma, and after a particularly severe asthma attack in July, she filed a complaint with the home requesting that she be excused from supervising these breaks.
The complaint alleges that the home denied her request then terminated her towards the end of July after she refused to supervise the smoking breaks because of medical reasons. According to the EEOC, the alleged termination constitutes as a wrongful discharge because it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act which protects employees from being discriminated against because of their disabilities.
The woman is suing for back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
Source: Eeoc.gov, "EEOC Sues Camden Place Health & Rehab, LLC for Disability Discrimination," Press Release, Dec. 27, 2012