New Jersey Hospital Charged With Disability Discrimination

February 9, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

Saint Clare’s Health, a division of Prime Healthcare Services that operates hospitals across 14 states in the U.S., was charged with disability discrimination by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Feb. 8.

The EEOC said in a statement that Saint Clare’s violated federal law when it refused to accommodate a new employee’s sudden disability by delaying her start date, and withdrew her job offer instead.

Taylor McKay, who was pregnant at the time, was hired by Saint Clare’s Health as an EMS dispatcher. She completed a background check, drug test, and health screening and was scheduled to start work. However, McKay was hospitalized and diagnosed with preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication affecting the circulatory system, causing high blood pressure and risk to internal organs.

Five days before her start date – while in the hospital where she was induced into early labor due to her condition and was awaiting the birth of her son – McKay emailed Saint Clare’s human resource department about her diagnosis and induction and asked what steps she needed to take next.

Instead of the next steps, within hours she received a voicemail from Saint Clare’s withdrawing her offer of employment, even though she needed only the minor accommodation of delaying her start date by several weeks.

“The law requires that employers engage with applicants and employees to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Here, the employer’s response was not engagement, but instead revocation of the individual’s job — a clear violation of the ADA,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office.

After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers engage with applicants and employees to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities and prohibits employers from taking adverse action against qualified applicants and employees based on their disability,” it said in the statement.