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PRESS RELEASE
5-7-13

Fort Worth Center of Rehabilitation Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Health Care Facility Refused to Allow Alternate Form of Drug Testing as a Reasonable Accommodation for Applicant with Renal Failure, Agency Charged

DALLAS - The Fort Worth Center of Rehabilitation violated federal law by discriminating against an applicant based on her disability, renal failure, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, FWCR discriminated against Patsy Roberson, whose kidneys were removed several years ago as a result of their total failure, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In June 2011, FWRC made a conditional job offer to Roberson as a certified nurse assistant. The FWRC interviewer told Roberson that the job offer was contingent on passing a drug screen, at which point she indicated that she could not do a urine-based screen because of her kidney failure.

Robertson specifically requested a reasonable accommodation in the form of a different method of drug testing. The rehab center denied Roberson's request for accommodation despite the existence of alternate forms of drug screening, and revoked her conditional offer of employment.

Refusing to grant a request for a reasonable accommodation during the application process, absent a showing that doing so would create an undue burden on the company, and subsequently refusing to hire an individual because of her disability violate the ADA. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:13-cv-1736 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief to ensure no future discrimination.

"This employer could have accommodated Ms. Roberson's disability in several different ways," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "For example, blood or hair screens are drug tests that do not require a urinalysis."

EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard said, "The right to a reasonable accommodation extends not just to employees, but also job applicants. Ms. Roberson, was denied the opportunity to work because of an unfortunate ignorance of the law. The request for accommodation here would not have cost the company any significant amount of money, and it would have gained a great employee in Ms. Roberson."

In fiscal year 2012, 26,379 ADA charges were filed with the EEOC, an increase of 2 percent from the previous fiscal year. Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA, is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

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