EEOC Sues Presbyterian Healthcare for Disability Discrimination

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –  Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp., one of the largest health care  institutions in North Carolina, violated federal law by refusing to hire an  applicant for a phlebotomist position because of an impairment to his left knee,  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it  filed today.

According to the EEOC’s  complaint, Donovus Todd has a permanent physical impairment of his left knee  as a result of a knee injury.  In 2009,  Todd received medical clearance to participate in a phlebotomist training  program at a community college in Charlotte.   As part of the program, Todd completed a seven-week phlebotomist  internship with Presbyterian Healthcare.   On completion of the program, Todd applied for and was offered a permanent  position with Presbyterian Healthcare as a phlebotomist, pending a health  screening exam.  Todd disclosed the knee  impairment during the health screening and provided Presbyterian Healthcare  with his related medical records, and then the company rescinded its job  offer.  According to the EEOC, Todd was  fully qualified for the position and could perform its duties, but was denied  hire simply because Presbyterian Healthcare perceived him to be disabled as a  result of his knee injury.

Such alleged conduct violates  the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and  applicants from discrimination based on real or perceived disabilities.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission v. Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp.; Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-00195)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.  The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory  and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

“It is unfortunate that more  than 20 years after the enactment of the ADA, too many employers hold  impairments against applicants when those impairments don’t inhibit their  ability to perform the jobs they seek,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney  for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.   “The EEOC is fully committed to its responsibility to enforce the ADA  and combat disability discrimination.”

According to company  information, Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp. is a private regional  medical center that operates Presbyterian Hospital and four other general  hospitals in Charlotte and surrounding areas.   The company also maintains a network of primary care and specialty  physicians and operates numerous outpatient centers, urgent care clinics and  other ancillary facilities.  Presbyterian  employs more than 9,000 people.

Eliminating barriers in  recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices  that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers,  women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities  identified by the EEOC’s  Strategic  Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC enforces federal  laws prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site  at