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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Hospital Allegedly Fired an Employee Due to Disability

By Dan Atkerson on October 05, 2015

Disabled office worker with colleagueThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit against Methodist Heath System. The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of a former employee Adrianna Cook, who alleges wrongful termination for her disability.

Cook worked as a patient care technician, which required her to lift and transport patients throughout the day. Unfortunately, Cook was injured during work in 2012. She sustained multiple injuries including lumbar sprain, disc displacement, and an annular tear, any of which qualify her as disabled, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The EEOC claim that Cook only wanted a new position with the hospital, but was not afforded any assistance. She was forced to take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act while she went through the application process for eight other job vacancies at the hospital for which she was well-qualified. Positions such as “patient sitter” which would see her watching over newborns, or another position as a “scheduler.” Neither of those positions would have required heavy lifting and would have worked well for Cook.

However, in the end, the hospital rejected her applications and terminated her as soon as her unpaid leave under the FMLA was out, according to Cook.

The lawsuit claims that had the hospital just reassigned Cook to one of the other positions she was qualified for, Cook would not have needed to take unpaid leave and could have remained a useful employee.

Devika Seth, a senior trial attorney at the Dallas EEOC office, told The Dallas Morning News that “[T]he request by Ms. Cook to continue as a productive employee was an excellent opportunity for the hospital to demonstrate its commitment to staff whose disabilities do not prevent them from performing valuable functions.”

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