Hospital Withdrew Job Offer Over Pregnancy-Related Impairment, Federal Agency Charged
NEWARK, N.J. – Saint Clare’s Health, a division of Prime Healthcare Services that operates two hospitals in Morris County, New Jersey, will pay $77,550 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According the EEOC’s lawsuit, Saint Clare’s Health hired a pregnant candidate to file a per diem EMS dispatcher position at its Dover, New Jersey facility. A few days before her start date, however, the employee was hospitalized and diagnosed with preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related impairment affecting the circulatory system. The employee then contacted Saint Clare’s human resources department about her diagnosis and asked what steps she needed to take next. Saint Clare’s Health responded by withdrawing her job offer, even though she only needed the minor accommodation of delaying her start date by several weeks.
Such conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers engage with applicants and employees to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities absent undue hardship and prohibits employers from taking adverse action against qualified applicants and employees based on their disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (EEOC v. Prime Healthcare Services – Saint Clare’s, LLC d/b/a Saint Clare’s Health, Civil Action No. 21-cv-02055) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. This case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorneys Edumin Corrales and Caitlin D. Brown, supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly A. Cruz.
The consent decree settling the suit provides a total of $77,550 in lost wages and other damages, along with significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further discrimination. These provisions include an injunction prohibiting Saint Clare’s Health from discriminating against employees and candidates for employment based on disability, including pregnancy-related impairments; updates to the company’s internal policies; and mandatory training for Saint Clare’s Health employees about federal anti-discrimination law. The company must also report to the EEOC on any internal complaints of disability discrimination or retaliation it receives for the next two-and-a-half years.
“It is critical for employers to understand that the law requires them to provide a reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities so that they can perform the job’s essential functions,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “We are pleased that Saint Clare’s Health worked with the EEOC early in the litigation process to make the harmed employee whole.”
EEOC District Director Judy Keenan added, “The ADA affords women with pregnancy-related impairments the same right to reasonable accommodation as other employees who suffer with non-pregnancy-related disabilities. Targeted EEO training and revisions to anti-discrimination policies that highlight pregnancy-related impairments are concrete steps toward protecting candidates and employees from disability discrimination.”
The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.