EEOC sues Har­bor Hos­pi­tal over a worker’s ter­mi­na­tion

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - By An­drea K. McDaniels am­c­daniels@balt­ Twit­

The U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion has filed a law­suit against MedS­tar Har­bor Hos­pi­tal ac­cus­ing the Bal­ti­more fa­cil­ity of fir­ing a res­pi­ra­tory ther­a­pist rather than ac­com­mo­dat­ing his med­i­cal dis­abil­ity so he could do his job.

The Bal­ti­more hos­pi­tal dis­crim­i­nated against Jerome Al­ston, 57, who has a com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tem, the com­mis­sion said in a court fil­ing re­leased Tues­day.

The Columbia res­i­dent re­ceived a kid­ney trans­plant in 2001 and takes med­i­ca­tion that weak­ens his im­mune sys­tem and leaves him prone to in­fec­tions. Be­cause of his con­di­tion, he can’t work in the hos­pi­tal’s neg­a­tive pres­sure rooms — iso­la­tion ar­eas with me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems that trap in­fec­tious air­borne ma­te­ri­als to pre­vent them from reach­ing other parts of the hos­pi­tal.

Al­ston, who was hired by the hos­pi­tal in 2010, was given mod­i­fied as­sign­ments, or “work-arounds,” for nearly three years. It was the same ac­com­mo­da­tions the hos­pi­tal pro­vided for preg­nant women.

In Novem­ber 2013, EEOC at­tor­neys said, the hos­pi­tal abruptly de­nied his re­quest for spe­cial ac­com­mo­da­tions. The agency al­leged he was fired when he said he couldn’t do the work in the con­di­tions the hos­pi­tal wanted.

“The law is clear — an em­ployer must pro­vide a rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for an em­ployee’s dis­abil­ity un­less the em­ployer can show that do­ing so would be an un­due hard­ship,” said EEOC Re­gional At­tor­ney De­bra M. Lawrence in a state­ment.

Hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on the law­suit be­cause they had not re­viewed it. Al­ston also de­clined to com­ment. The EEOC com­plaint said the com­mis­sion was un­able to reach an agree­ment with the hos­pi­tal to come up with a way to ac­com­mo­date Al­ston and there­fore had to file the law­suit.

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