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Harborview Senior Care Properties to Pay $21,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Suit

Employee  Fired for Exceeding Two-Week Maximum Leave Policy,  Federal Agency Charged

RALEIGH, N.C. - Senior Care Properties, Inc., doing business as  Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, will pay $21,000 and provide  other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today.  The EEOC had charged that a  certified nursing assistant with rheumatoid arthritis was denied a reasonable  accommodation and then unlawfully fired by the residential rehabilitation  facility because of her disability.     

According to the EEOC's lawsuit,  Senior Care Properties Inc., which operates Harborview Rehabilitation and  Healthcare Center in Morehead City, N.C., hired Katrina Friend in 2015. Friend  has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that she managed with  prescription medication. Without medication, Friend has difficulty picking up  or gripping objects. In July 2015, Friend was unable to fill her prescriptions,  as she had not yet received her insurance card from Harborview, and she  experienced an arthritis flare-up. By August 2015, Friend resumed her  medication regimen and requested four weeks of light duty to allow the  medication to take effect. In response, Harborview ignored Friend's light duty  request, offered her no other accommodation, and placed Friend on unpaid leave.  Although the company had been informed that Friend could return to full duty at  the end of the four-week light-duty period, Harborview fired Friend for  exceeding the company's maximum two-week leave policy.

Such alleged conduct violates the  American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from  discrimination based on a disability and requires employers to provide disabled  employees with reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District  Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission v. Senior Care Properties, Inc. d/b/a  Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare; Civil Action No 4:17-cv-00136-FL)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

In addition to the $21,000 in  damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that Senior  Care Properties develop a disability accommodation policy. Senior Care  Properties must also provide annual training to its managers, supervisors and  employees at its Morehead City location on the requirements of the ADA,  including reasonable accommodation and its disability accommodation policy.  Senior Care Properties will also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit  and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws.  

"When an employee  with a disability notifies his or her employer of the need for a light duty  assignment or leave from work for reasons related to the disability, the employer  must consider exceptions to light duty and leave policies as a reasonable  accommodation," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's  Charlotte District Office. "The ADA requires that employers provide such  reasonable accommodation unless it would be an undue hardship to accommodate  the employee, which in this case it certainly would not have been."

The EEOC  advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting  employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.  Stay connected with the  latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.