Hospital's Day Care Center Refused to Hire Experienced Child Care Worker Because of Her Cerebral Palsy, Federal Agency Says
MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a disability discrimination lawsuit this week against Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley, Iowa. The agency alleged that Bright Beginnings of Osceola County, a day care center operated by the hospital, unlawfully failed to hire a woman because of her cerebral palsy.
An administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit, found reasonable cause to believe that the hospital violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to hire Jodene Kruse Schreiber, who has cerebral palsy, for a position as a child care worker. Schreiber has years of child care experience and was passed over in favor of less-qualified applicants.
The EEOC filed suit after first trying to reach a voluntary agreement to resolve the matter through its statutory conciliation process. The agency seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for Schreiber in addition to an order barring future discrimination and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. Osceola Community Hospital d/b/a Bright Beginnings of Osceola County, Civil Action No. 5:12-cv-4087, was filed on Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court for the District of Iowa in Sioux City and assigned to Judge Donald E. O'Brien.
"The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the national mandate, memorialized in the Americans with Disabilities Act, that Americans with disabilities deserve equal job opportunities," said John P. Rowe, director for the EEOC Chicago District, who oversaw the agency's administrative investigation. "Applicants for jobs should be evaluated on their skills, their experience, and their ability to perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. That's it. Employers have no business making hiring decisions on the basis of an actual or perceived disability."
EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson added, "The ADA was passed to combat decisions based on biases and misconceptions regarding individuals with disabilities. Our task is to make sure that Ms. Schrieber and others like her get a fair shake in the job market and are not prejudiced by stereotypes and misconceptions that too many still hold about applicants with disabilities."
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 discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.