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The EEOC is claiming that the employer illegally fired the employee who had been on leave for breast cancer treatment instead of extending her medical leave period. The EEOC alleged that the business discriminated against the worker on the basis of her disability when it fired her while she was receiving treatments for breast cancer rather than granting a request from her doctor for a short period of additional leave for her to receive additional treatment.
This lawsuit reminds Florida employers of the need to engage in an interactive process when an employee is requesting leave in a situation where that leave may be considered as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
Even though it may be permissible to fire an employee with breast cancer, it will almost always draw intense scrutiny from the EEOC and plaintiff’s lawyers looking to sue your Florida business. If you find yourself in such a situation, you should promptly contact experienced labor and employment counsel who can help your Florida company navigate through the requirements if the ADA.
An EEOC spokesperson reminded employers that they have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities that enables them to perform the essential functions of their job and that, as courts have repeatedly found, a leave of absence can qualify as a reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances.
Another EEOC spokesperson stated, “[a]nyone suffering from breast cancer has enough to face and overcome without her employer violating federal law and denying her adequate leave to combat her illness…When such a situation sadly occurs, the EEOC is ready to step in and fight for people who are fighting discrimination as well as cancer.”
If your Florida business needs any assistance in addressing an EEOC charge of discrimination or in handling a disability-related leave of absence, please email or call the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. at 1-772-465-5111.
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An employee requested leave from June through November due to her surgery and follow-up treatment for breast cancer.
In the EEOC’s lawsuit, they allege that the employee’s breast cancer was an impairment that “substantially limited the major life activity of normal cell growth,” therefore was a disability under the ADA.
The employer has argued that they eventually rehired the employee. This appears to be too little, too late for the EEOC which is continuing forward with its lawsuit. The EEOC appears to be taking the position that even though the employer eventually rehired the employee, it was not before being denied the opportunity to work at her job for more than six months.
The company refused to grant her leave beyond Sept. 30. Instead, the employer fired the employee.
The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for disability discrimination. Because the employer was covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC investigated the charge of discrimination and found cause to conclude that the employer violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The EEOC attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. When the EEOC’s attempt at conciliation proved unsuccessful, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit. EEOC v. Illinois Action for Children, case number 17-cv-6224.
Can I fire an employee with breast cancer?