Blood Collection Company Fired Employees with Disabilities for Needing Additional Time Off, Federal Agency Charges
HONOLULU, HI (STL.News) – Blood Bank of Hawaii, a non-profit blood collection company, will pay $175,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Blood Bank of Hawaii did not provide employees with disabilities leave beyond the required 12-weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and required employees to return to work without limitation at the end of their medical leave. The company also fired employees who had either exhausted their medical leave or were unable to return to work without restrictions.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii (U.S. EEOC v. Blood Bank of Hawaii, Case No. 1:17-cv-00444-HG-WRP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to the $175,000, the Blood Bank of Hawaii agreed to put in place measures to prevent discrimination within the workplace. This includes retaining an EEO consultant, designating an in-house ADA coordinator, revising the current ADA policy and distributing it to all employees. The company also agreed to training and the development an internal log for all ADA accommodation requests. The court will maintain jurisdiction for the term of the two-year consent decree.
“We continue to see employers not properly engaging in the interactive process,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “We commend Blood Bank of Hawaii for choosing to resolve this complaint and for putting in place measures that will benefit all employees in the workplace.”
Glory Gervacio Saure, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, said, “This resolution will send a message throughout the state of Hawaii that employers need to be aware of their obligations under the ADA. We are pleased Blood Bank of Hawaii has taken steps to make meaningful changes to their policies.”
Addressing disability discrimination in the form of inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).