MINNEAPOLIS – North Memorial Health, a health care provider that operates two hospitals and 26 specialty and primary care clinics, urgent and emergency care facilities and medical transportation services throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, will pay $180,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in July 2020, North Memorial Health failed to hire an applicant who is deaf for a greeter position because of her disability and failed to provide her a reasonable accommodation. The applicant was qualified for the position and could perform the essential functions of the job which included greeting visitors, applying COVID-19 masking standards and policies, giving directions and keeping the area tidy and welcoming, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which requires the accommodation of employees’ and applicants’ disabilities and prohibits firing or refusing to hire an applicant due to their disability.
The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. North Memorial Health, Civil Action No. 22-cv-777 (NEB/TNL)) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $180,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires North Memorial Health to revise its policies to state it will apply its disability anti-discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies to all applicants and employees hired to work at North Memorial Health, whether they are hired by North Memorial directly or through a staffing firm. The decree also requires North Memorial Health to include in all new contracts with staffing firms that provide contract or temporary workers, a provision that North Memorial Health will engage in the ADA interactive process when informed that an applicant or employee has requested an accommodation, and North Memorial will provide a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would result in an undue hardship or direct threat. North Memorial Health is also required to submit to the EEOC reports of complaints of failure to hire and failure to accommodate based on disability. North Memorial Health will also provide training to employees involved in the hiring process.
“Unfortunately, some employers continue to discriminate against deaf applicants based on myths, fears, and stereotypes about their ability to do the job because of their disability,” said EEOC Chicago District Office Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour. “We are pleased that the consent decree requires North Memorial Health to now engage in the interactive process with all applicants including those sent via staffing firms and provide such applicants a reasonable accommodation as required under the ADA.”
Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, said “The consent decree’s requirement of training for managers and supervisors, involved in hiring decisions, on the ADA’s provisions against discrimination is critical to eliminating discrimination against disabled applicants.”
The EEOC’s legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office conducted the litigation under the management of the agency’s Chicago District Office. That office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
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