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PRESS RELEASE
3-19-12

EEOC Sues Owner of Golden LivingCenter – Dartmouth for Disability Discrimination

Nursing  Facility Fired Employee Because of Her Disability, Federal Agency Charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance  LLC, a Delaware corporation that operates Golden  LivingCenter-Dartmouth in Charlotte,  N.C., discriminated against an  employee with a disability and then unlawfully fired her, the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Golden Living operates a nursing facility that  provides care to individuals who are ill, physically and mentally disabled, and  elderly.

According  to the EEOC’s complaint, Sandra Bagwell has major depressive disorder (MDD). Bagwell was hired by Golden Living as a  licensed practical nurse around April 5, 2007.  About two years later, Bagwell had a major depressive episode which led  to her being admitted to the Behavioral Health Center/Carolinas Medical  Center-Randolph (BHC/CMC) for psychiatric evaluation and treatment. On the same day, Bagwell’s husband called her  supervisor, the director of nursing, concerning Bagwell’s hospitalization. Bagwell informed the nursing director that  she was in the hospital and would not be able to report to work, and that she  needed to take a leave of absence.  Bagwell had previously informed the nursing director that she suffered  from MDD.

The  EEOC said that two days later, Bagwell’s husband also spoke with the  defendant’s executive director concerning Bagwell’s need for a medical leave of  absence. Golden  LivingCenter refused to approve Bagwell’s request for a medical leave of  absence as an accommodation for her disability and instead fired her, the EEOC  said.

Such  alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which  protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District  Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. GGNSC Charlotte Renaissance LLC  d/b/a Golden LivingCenter-Dartmouth; Civil Action No.3:12 CV 176) after  first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The EEOC seeks back pay,  compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

“Employers  are reminded of their obligation to work with disabled employees to provide  necessary reasonable accommodations,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney  for the EEOC’s Charlotte  District. “A company cannot simply fire someone because  he or she needs to take medical leave related to a disability. Federal law clearly protects people from  precisely that type of discriminatory action.”

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.