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Settlement helps asthmatic nursing assistant breathe easier

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Camden Place Health and Rehab in Greensboro has settled a disability discrimination claim with a former employee for $51,000.

The certified nursing assistant had been fired after she refused to supervise patients during their outdoor smoking breaks.

An asthma sufferer, the nursing assistant complained that the second-hand smoke aggravated her condition. She asked to be excused from the duty for several months and gave Camden Place a medical certification documenting the effect the smoke would have on her.

Despite repeated requests and the documentation, her supervisors insisted that all the nursing assistants had to take turns supervising patients while they took smoke breaks.

The nursing assistant was fired when she refused.

She filed a disability discrimination complaint with the EEOC, which ­­at­­­­tempted to resolve the dispute. When that effort failed, the EEOC sued.

That got Camden Place’s attention—it elected to settle the case rather than have it go to trial. In addition to the money, the employer agreed to train its supervisors about the ADA and how the reasonable accommodation process is supposed to work.

Note: Employers that ignore reasonable accommodation requests put themselves on the wrong side of the law.

If you decide to reject an accommodation request, you must provide specific reasons why the accommodation would have been unreasonable. Simply saying “no” is not sufficient.

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