ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Legal
Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has
announced New Mexico Orthopaedics Associates PC (NMOA) will pay $165,000
to resolve allegations of associational disability discrimination.
NMOA purportedly fired
Melissa Yalch Valencia, a temporary staffing agency, and failed to hire her for
a full-time position because of her relationship with her child, a girl with
disabilities. Alleged conduct of this nature violates the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The ADA specifically
prohibits discrimination against mothers, fathers, caregivers, family members
or others who are associated with persons with disabilities,” EEOC
regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill said.
“Employers, especially those employers in
medical fields, should be careful to provide employment opportunities based
solely on the qualifications of the employee or applicant and not impermissible
factors such as their association with an individual with a disability.”
In addition to monetary damages,
NMOA needs to conduct annual anti-discrimination training for employees, implement
a management evaluation system that takes into account equal employment
opportunity law compliance, and adopt and distribute its anti-discrimination
“This lawsuit is the first
associational disability claim pursued by the Albuquerque Area Office in
federal court,” EEOC Albuquerque area director Derick Newton said.
"We are proud
of the staff involved and pleased that this employer will provide needed
training and resources to ensure that this does not occur again.”