BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - M&T Bank faces a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of the company’s former employee.

The EEOC alleged in its complaint, which was submitted to the Northern Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, that M&T failed to uphold the rights of its employee, Candace McCollin, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Instead of providing her with the opportunity to go back to work following her short-term disability leave, the bank allegedly moved to relieve her of her position as branch manager. The situation prompted the EEOC to take action.

"The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation such as unpaid leave or transfer to a vacant position. EEOC will take robust action if an employer blatantly refuses to meet its legal obligations,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a press release.

McCollin worked as a branch manager at M&T Bank for a number of years. Her most recent position was at the Edmonson Village branch of the bank in Baltimore. During her tenure, McCollin says she got pregnant and needed leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA allowed eligible employees to receive as many as 12 work weeks of unpaid leave credits within a year to deal with health conditions. These situations cover not only the health concerns of the employee but also his or her family members.

Among the conditions covered under the FMLA are pregnancy care and the care for a newborn child. Most employees in the private and public sectors are covered by the benefits offered under the FMLA.

In her request, McCollin said that she would need to allot time for her recovery, as her pregnancy is a delicate one considering that she already suffered from miscarriages in the past. Hence, McCollin says she needed to undergo surgery for the pregnancy.

M&T allegedly informed McCollin that it would only give her 10 days to get back to work before they replaced her with another employee.

Months after she gave birth, she received medical clearance to return to her job. Since M&T moved to give McCollin’s position to another employee, the bank instructed her to file applications to the vacant positions she deemed herself to be qualified, it is alleged.

Among the job vacancies available, there were 24 slots for branch managers or assistant branch managers. Despite her experience in the position, McCollin failed to land any of the job openings offered by the bank.

According to the EEOC, her inability to get rehired by the company was due to her disability or record of a disability.

"Our investigation showed that there were two dozen vacant positions for which Ms. McCollin was qualified in the weeks before and after her termination. M&T could easily have transferred her as a reasonable accommodation instead of firing her because of her disability," EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said.

The EEOC aims to get McCollin reinstated in her position. The agency also seeks to oblige M&T to give her back pay with interest including compensation for the emotional distress she suffered during this trial. Other damages are part of the EEOC’s demand as well.  

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