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EEOC targets health care staffing agency for alleged discrimination against worker with sickle-cell anemia

By Mark Iandolo | Aug 23, 2017

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit Aug. 14 against Dependable Health Services Inc., a health care staffing agency, for allegations of firing an employee with sickle-cell anemia.

“The law is clear -- an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with a disability," said EEOC regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "Instead of reinstating Sheena Berry, or responding to her request to be reassigned to work in the outpatient department, Dependable Health Services abruptly fired her the day before she was set to return to work - and that's why we filed this suit."

According to EEOC, Berry worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a phlebotomist; she started her employment in March 2016. The following September, Dependable Health Services took over a medical services contract at the site. Berry was pregnant at the time and experienced complications due to sickle-cell anemia. The defendants purportedly failed to properly accommodate her.

"Everyone loses when an employer rushes to terminate an employee instead of exploring potential reasonable accommodations, including transfer to a vacant position that would enable a good worker to remain employed,” said Spencer H. Lewis Jr., district director of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.

The EEOC's Philadelphia District Office oversees agency operations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. 

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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission