Prestige Care Inc., Prestige Senior Living, LLC, and their affiliates have been ordered to pay $2 million to settle a disability discrimination suit.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who charged that the companies named had failed to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities as required by law.
Details of the Case
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the companies based in Vancouver, Washington held and enforced policies that required employees to perform job duties at 100% with no room for accommodation, and with an inflexible leave policy. They were enforcing an illegal “100 percent healed/100 percent fit” policy with their workers in 8 western states.
The EEOC claims that the employer’s conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and after an attempt to reach a pre-litigation settlement, filed their suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. In addition to paying $2 million, the companies will also pay additional relief aimed at preventing disability discrimination in the future. Under this relief, Prestige will retain a third-party monitor to review and revise policies in violation of the law, and ensure that other steps are taken in order for the companies to operate within compliance of the ADA. These efforts include training, a clear policy for handling disability discrimination complaints, and informing all eligible claimants of their right to request reasonable accommodations when applying to work for the companies.
Discriminatory Company Policies
Such cases serve as important reminders to employers that policies and company culture may be created with too much focus on productivity without accounting for human limitations, be they physical or otherwise. Following the suit, Prestige has cooperated with the EEOC and the ADA to correct their policies and the culture that supports it.
Reminder for Employers
The EEOC commended Prestige for its efforts to become compliant. Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office encourages “all employers in the nursing and assisted living industry to follow suit and review their disability accommodation policies and practices to ensure they are in compliance with federal law.”
The nursing and assisted living industry is not the only area where employer disability discrimination can occur. Employers should review the rigidity of their policies to ensure reasonable accommodations can be met, that complaints are taken seriously and escalated as needed, and that all employees and managers are trained on policies and procedures that comply with federal law.
Additionally, the EEOC filed their suit in 2017 and it has taken 2 ½ years for the case to settle. In that time, Prestige spent time, money, and reputation on handling these matters. Companies can avoid the costly consequences of a public lawsuit by ensuring compliance before any employees are negatively impacted.
If you are experiencing disability discrimination in the workplace, or have questions about whether or not your employer is breaking the law, we have some tips that may be able to help. No one should have to experience discrimination in their place of employment — or anywhere — and there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Review our strategies for mitigating workplace discrimination.