EEOC Settles Firing of Nurse with Cancer Case

Sep 22 2015 - Disabilities, FMLA/CFRA - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

BreastCancer

Nurse diagnosed with breast cancer was terminated for exceeding company’s medical leave time limit.

The nationwide healthcare provider Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI) recently settled a disability lawsuit involving the alleged firing of a nurse who needed more medical leave to complete her cancer treatment.

The lawsuit was filed last year by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the nurse worked at a Sacramento location of DCI for nearly 14 years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took medical leave for various treatments. Four months later, DCI notified the nurse that she was being terminated for exceeding the time limit dictated by its medical leave policy.

According to the lawsuit, DCI’s policy was to terminate employees who were unable to return to work 30 days after they exhausted their 12 week leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The settlement will require DCI to pay the nurse $190,000. DCI is also required to make several policy changes, including providing extended medical leave for employees whose health care providers determine that they may need such leave as a reasonable accommodation.

Under both state and federal law, employers must consider extended disability leave as a reasonable accommodation. In fact, California’s disability regulations specifically require employers to engage in the interactive process with disabled employees who have exhausted family and medical leave to determine whether additional leave would be an effective accommodation.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

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