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EEOC Sues Tennova Healthcare for Disability Discrimination

October 18, 2019
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Hospital Refused to Accommodate Nurse’s Medical Restrictions, Federal Agency Charges

Clarksville Health System, G.P. d/b/a Tennova Healthcare - Clarksville (Tennova), operating a hospital in Clarksville, [Tennessee]., violated federal civil rights laws when it denied a registered nurse a reasonable accommodation for her disability and fired her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the nurse suffered an on-the-job injury to her knee. After surgery and recovery, her doctor placed her on permanent restrictions of intermittent sedentary activity for a third of the day. Tennova refused to allow the employee to continue working as a nurse. Instead, Tennova gave her ten days to find another job at its hospital before it fired her. Despite having vacant jobs in the workplace for which the nurse qualified, Tennova failed to reassign the nurse to the positions as a reasonable accommodation. Rather, Tennova required the nurse to apply and interview for the positions and declined to hire her. After Tennova fired the nurse, Tennova offered her a registrar job that paid one third of what the nursing position paid.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees by denying them a reasonable accommodation and terminating them because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00898 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

"A qualified individual with a disability has a right to a reasonable accommodation, which may include reassignment to a vacant position absent undue hardship," said EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. "The EEOC remains ready to assist employers in learning their obligations under the ADA."

According to its website, Tennova is a health network operating ten hospitals and numerous health care services in Tennessee. Tennova offers a full range of medical services and procedures to patients in Tennessee through over 7,000 employees and 2,800 physicians.

The EEOC’s Memphis District Office has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and 17 northern counties of Mississippi.

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

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