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PRESS RELEASE
9-27-12

EEOC Sues Bobby E. Wright Behavioral Health Center for Disability Discrimination

Center  Fired Employee After She Sought Medical Treatment to Manage Depression and  Panic Attacks, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - Bobby E. Wright  Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center, Inc. (BEW Center) violated federal law by  failing to accommodate and then firing an employee with a mental health  disability, the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday. BEW  Center is a health center located in Chicago that provides services to  persons with mental health, behavioral, emotional, and substance abuse problems.

According to the EEOC suit, BEW Center refused to accommodate the  employee who requested time off to seek treatment her depression and panic  attacks from her doctor.  Instead, the  EEOC said, BEW Center required the employee be treated by its doctor.  The EEOC also alleged that BEW Center  discharged the employee because of her disability.

The EEOC filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after  first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with BEW Center through its  conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Behavioral  Health Center, Inc., N.D. Ill. No. 12-cv-07695, was filed Sept. 26  in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division,  and has been assigned to District Judge Milton Shadur.  Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason and  Trial Attorney Brandi Davis will litigate the case on behalf of the EEOC.

"Mental health disabilities have  long been misunderstood by society," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney  for the EEOC's Chicago District Office.  "Unfortunately,  this leaves people with mental health disabilities vulnerable to  discrimination.  Employers must recognize  that simple accommodations like a short time off work can open the door for  employment for these people. Of all employers, one would expect a center  focused on mental health to understand this."

The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for  processing charges of discrimin­ation, administrative enforcement, and the  conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North  and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

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