$165,000 Settlement in Associational Disability Discrimination Lawsuit, Training Ordered

 
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
 

Question:  Would disability discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

 New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates, P.C. (NMOA), which owns and operates a medical facility in Albuquerque, will pay $165,000 to settle a lawsuit for associational disability discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to EEOC's suit, NMOA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by firing Melissa Yalch Valencia, a temporary staffing agency employee, and failing to hire her for a full-time position because of her relationship with her then three-year old daughter, who had disabilities or was regarded as disabled.

Disability discrimination, including discrimination against relatives and associates of a disabled individual, violates the ADA. EEOC filed its suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates, P.C., 15-CV-00557 MV/KBM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to requiring NMOA to pay monetary damages to Valencia and provide her a letter of reference, the consent decree settling the suit requires NMOA to conduct annual anti-discrimination training for its employees, managers, supervisors, and human resources employees. NMOA will also develop and implement a management evaluation and compensation system which takes into account compliance with equal employment opportunity laws, policies and laws prohibiting retaliation, and this decree. NMOA will also adopt and distribute its anti-discrimination policies and report to EEOC if there are any complaints of disability discrimination. The court approved the settlement and will retain jurisdiction for purposes of compliance for two years.

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