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PRESS RELEASE
9-28-12

EEOC Sues University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. For Disability Discrimination

Medical  Practice Fired Employee Because of Her Crohn's Disease, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE - A prominent Baltimore medical practice with over  1,000 employees violated federal law when it fired a medical practice  representative instead of providing unpaid leave as an accommodation of her  disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in  a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC charges that Doneen King was unable to work for two  weeks while undergoing medical treatment, including two emergency room visits  and a hospitalization.  On Jan. 7, 2010, King,  a medical practice representative whose duties included answering phone calls  and scheduling appoint­ments, advised the medical practice that she had been  diagnosed with Crohn's disease and she would be able to return to work the  following Monday, Jan. 11.  Instead of  providing an additional day of unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation to  her disability, the medical practice discharged her the next day. 

University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc.'s lateness  and attendance policy does not provide for exceptions or modifications to the  attendance policy as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with  disabilities.  The company's application  of its lateness and attendance policy to King denied her leave as a reasonable  accommodation, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the  EEOC asserted in its lawsuit.   

It is  a violation of the ADA to fire someone on the basis of a disability.  The ADA also requires an employer to provide  a reasonable accommodation unless the employer can show it would be an undue  hardship.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S.  District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, Civil Action  No. 1:12-cv-02887-RDB, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.  In its  lawsuit, the EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the medical practice from  discharging employees on the basis of a disability and from failing to provide  a reasonable accommodation to individuals with a disability, as well as lost  wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other affirmative relief for King.

"The law is crystal-clear  that employers must do the right thing and reasonably accommodate an employee's  disability unless that would pose an undue hardship, which certainly would not  have been the case here," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director  of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.   "The EEOC will take strong action to protect the rights of employees  with disabilities when employers ignore their legal obligations."

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "It is  shocking and ironic that a large medical practice refused to help an employee  with a disability and failed to provide such a simple and inexpensive  reasonable accommodation-an extra day of unpaid leave-as required by federal  law."

According to its website, http://www.fpi.umaryland.edu, University  of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI) coordinates and supports the  clinical activities of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and  employs over 1,000 non-physician staff who support the clinical practices of  the University of Maryland faculty.

The  Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland,  Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. 

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