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EEOC lawsuit shows ADA mental disability peril

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Golden Living Center, a nursing home in Dartmouth, faces an EEOC disability discrimination lawsuit in a case that highlights the difficulty of dealing with mental disabilities under the ADA. (See "5 questions & answers about accommodating mental disabilities" for more on this important topic.)

The EEOC filed suit against Golden Living after it fired a licensed practical nurse who re­­quested a leave of absence to recover from a major episode of depression. Her condition was so severe that in 2009, she required hospitalization. Upon her release, she still needed time to recover at home.

Previously, she had informed her supervisor about her condition. Her husband also spoke with her supervisor and Golden Living’s executive director about the need for a leave of absence. The nursing home fired her instead.

The EEOC’s suit claims Golden Living violated the ADA by refusing to accommodate the nurse’s disability. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

Note: Employers that refuse an accommodation request must show the accommodation is an undue burden to them.

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