ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced Apria Healthcare Inc. will pay $100,000 after allegations of disability discrimination.


Apria, a home medical provider that offers medical equipment and services, allegedly fired Hilda Padilla after she came back from medical leave, during which time she had a 23-pound tumor removed. The firing took place roughly one week after Padilla returned to work.

The company said the firing was due to a reduction in work force, but it purportedly did not give Padilla notice of the impending layoff, nor did it eliminate another warehouse clerk’s position. Alleged conduct of this nature violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


“The timing of the reduction-in-force in this lawsuit was suspect and it was particularly difficult for Ms. Padilla, who had not yet recovered from surgery,” EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill said. “It is important for employees to know they are entitled to request and avail themselves of reasonable accommodations to perform their essential job functions without fear of facing termination from their employment.”


Apria must give Padilla a letter of apology and a reference letter in addition to the monetary relief. The company also needs to provide annual ADA training to its employees for the next three years.


“Employment decisions cannot be based upon impermissible factors such as an individual's medical condition or disability,” EEOC Albuquerque area director Derick Newton said. “Instead, employers must ensure that their decisions are rooted in non-discriminatory and legitimate factors.”

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