- Prestige Care Inc, Prestige Senior Living LLC and associates have agreed to pay $2 million to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency said Feb. 20.
- Prestige companies and associated nursing and assisted living facilities maintained policies requiring employees to perform 100% of job duties without restriction, accommodation or engaging in an interactive process, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC alleged in its suit. The settlement provides for monetary relief and further injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
- "Prestige is fully committed to fostering a work environment where every individual is treated with respect and dignity and is offered the appropriate accommodations to perform their responsibilities," it said in a statement to HR Dive. "We're satisfied that we've found an equitable resolution with the EEOC and look forward putting this chapter behind us so that we can continue to create rewarding workplaces and focus on the exceptional care we provide to our residents every day."
The news follows a spate of EEOC suits and settlements targeting "100% healed" policies in recent years.
In May 2019, a company providing healthcare to jails and prisons paid $950,000 to settle an EEOC suit alleging it refused to accommodate employees with disabilities who exhausted their leave under the company's policy and the Family and Medical Leave Act. EEOC further alleged that the company fired those employees if they were unable to return to work 100% healed or without medical restrictions once they exhausted their leave, while failing to consider accommodations like reassignment, unpaid leave or a modified work schedule.
In a guidance published in 2016, EEOC specified that employers violate the ADA when they require an employee with a disability to have no medical restrictions if they can perform their jobs with or without reasonable accommodations, unless an employer can demonstrate that providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship.
Employers also violate the ADA, EEOC said, if they claim that an employee who has medical restrictions poses a safety risk but cannot show that the individual is a "direct threat." The ADA's direct threat standard determines whether an employee's disability poses a "significant risk or substantial harm" to themselves or others.
Federal law requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities who require accommodations due to their disabilities, according to EEOC. Employers can ensure compliance with the ADA in part by undergoing and thoroughly documenting their engagement in the interactive process with employees, sources previously told HR Dive.