Hudson Valley Hospital not so sweet to diabetic employee

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Westchester County’s Hudson Valley Hospital will pay $142,500 to settle an EEOC charge in which a diabetic nurse claimed she suffered disability discrimination.

According to the EEOC, Glorianne Romano asked to have three days in a row off each week following an episode when she went into a diabetic coma in 2007. Her doctor said she needed the time off to regulate her insulin treatments. At first, the hospital agreed, but then withdrew the accommodation, claiming Romano’s schedule was too disruptive.

That’s when she filed a complaint alleging discrimination in violation of the ADA. The EEOC joined her suit after investigating and failing to reach an agreement with the hospital. Once the matter went to court, the hospital gave up trying to sugarcoat the matter and settled.

In addition to the monetary damages, the EEOC will monitor all accommodation requests at the hospital through the end of 2011. Managers and supervisors will undergo ADA training, and the hospital must modify its procedures for handling accommodation requests.

Note: Discontinuing an ADA accommodation after it has been working for an extended period of time is like asking the EEOC to pick your pocket. Anytime an employer refuses or discontinues an accommodation, it must document the decision to show that the accommodation created an undue hardship on the business. The documentation must show the dollar cost of the accommodation, including the cost of workplace disruption. If a court sees no accommodation cost analysis, it will almost always side with the employee.

Final note: The EEOC has a fact sheet on diabetes and disability discrimination law, available at www.eeoc.gov/facts/diabetes.html.

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