Healthcare Facility Who Fired Worker for Anxiety Disorder Violated the ADA

Recently, a Nashville healthcare and rehabilitation facility was found to have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), after firing her for her anxiety disorder. A jury awarded the worker $6,000 in compensatory damages.

Case background

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a complaint against the facility in January 2018, alleging that the facility failed to allow the worker intermittent leave to manage her anxiety disorder. The worker had requested one to three days off per month to deal with flare-ups, as well as three to four days per year to seek additional treatment.

When the worker requested leave, the nursing director told her she was ineligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections, since she had not worked a full year at that location. She was also told that she needed a note from her treating physician to clear her to work without restrictions.

After that discussion, the nursing director spoke with the employee’s treating physician and reiterated the need for the worker to be cleared for work without restrictions. Shortly thereafter, the worker was fired because of that anxiety disorder: a violation of the ADA.

The ADA protects employees from discrimination when they have a qualifying disability. Furthermore, the FMLA requires employers to provide up to 12 work weeks of leave for family and medical leave, as long as it qualifies under the act. Furthermore, employers may not always deny unpaid leave, even if the employee is ineligible for FMLA protections.

Unless a reasonable accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer, employers may be required to provide that unpaid leave. To determine whether the accommodation is reasonable, employers consider the amount, length, frequency and the predictability of when an employee might need leave. They should also consider the impact of the leave on co-workers and operations. In this case, the leave sought was considered reasonable.

If your employer has wrongfully denied you FMLA leave, consider filing a whistleblower suit. A seasoned whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group can assist when you call today.