07/16/14 — EEOC files suit against Mount Olive Care and Rehabilitation Center

View Archive

EEOC files suit against Mount Olive Care and Rehabilitation Center

By From staff reports
Published in News on July 16, 2014 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A nursing home here and its Delaware-based parent company have been charged with violating federal law by firing an employee because of her disability.

The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed July 10 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Mount Olive Care & Rehabilitation Center and Genesis Healthcare, LLC, the limited liability company, that operates the nursing home. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief for the fired employee.

"Mount Olive Center provides equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment," company spokesman Jeanne Moore said in an email. "Mount Olive Center does not tolerate nor condone discrimination in its employment or hiring practices. We are unable to comment on pending litigation at this time."

According to the EEOC complaint, Genesis Healthcare hired Margaret Washington to work as a cook and dietary aide at its Mount Olive facility in June of 2013.

Ms. Washington has a physical impairment that limits her use of the left side of her body. Shortly after she began working for Genesis Healthcare, her supervisor asked her what was wrong with her left arm.

She explained that she did not have the full use of her left arm, but that she was still able to perform her job duties.

A few weeks later, Ms. Washington's supervisor informed her that she did not believe Ms. Washington could perform her job duties without the full use of both arms.

Shortly thereafter, Genesis Healthcare fired Ms. Washington because she did not have the full use of her left arm.

According to an EEOC press release, the alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide disabled applicants and employees with reasonable accommodations.

"An employer cannot terminate an employee based solely on uninformed assumptions about her ability to work simply because of a disability," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, which includes the EEOC's Raleigh Area Office, where the charge was filed. "The EEOC will continue to fight for the rights of people like Margaret Washington."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.