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 policies.


“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.”

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