BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Sept. 13 that Vicksburg Healthcare LLC, doing business as River Region Medical Center, will pay $100,000 after allegations of federal disability discrimination.

"We are pleased that this employer is now taking proper steps to assure that reasonable accommodation measures are in place and publicized to its employees,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, EEOC's Birmingham District director.

According to the EEOC, Beatrice Chambers was a licensed practical nurse at River Region who sought and was approved for sick leave to have shoulder surgery. Chambers later requested, at the behest of her physical therapist and physician, an accommodation for more leave or to return to work with light duties. River Region allegedly refused and terminated her employment. Chambers had worked there for 36 years.

"Employers should know they violate federal law when they mandate that disabled employees can only return to work without work restrictions," said Marsha L. Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. "Employers also violate the law when they have inflexible policies restricting medical leave to 12 weeks as required by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers have a duty beyond the FMLA to provide unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation unless such an accommodation would cause undue hardship to the employer."

The EEOC's Birmingham District Office oversees agency operations in Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle.

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