Brookdale settles with EEOC for $112,000 in disability accommodation case

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments and more recent facility statistics from Brookdale Senior Living

A Denver senior living provider will pay $112,500 to settle a lawsuit that claims it failed to provide accommodations for, and subsequently fired, an employee with fibromyalgia.

According to the lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Brookdale Senior Living Communities Inc. of Denver refused to provide disability accommodations to its former health and wellness director, who has fibromyalgia. The employee's requests for a modified work schedule, ergonomic chair and adjustments to the lighting in her office were denied, the lawsuit claims. Brookdale allegedly fired the employee after she made repeated requests for accommodations.

“Employers need to know that snap judgments and refusals to consider reasonable accommodations can lead to violations of the law,” wrote EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill, in a press release. Sometimes the employer and employees will have to engage in a number of conversations and discussions of options in order to arrive at an effective reasonable accommodation.”

"Although the Company has reached a resolution in the matter involving Brookdale Mountain View (formerly known as Heritage Club Mountain View), that resolution is not an admission of any violation of the ADA," Brookdale Vice President of Corporate Communications Robert Borella wrote in a statement. "Additionally, the resolution states that Brookdale denies the allegations made by the EEOC and maintains that it did not engage in any unlawful actions."

Brookdale will have to pay $112,500 to the former employee, in addition to training all employees and district managers at its Mountain View community on the Americans with Disabilities Act's requirements. Among those requirements is the need to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities.

Brookdale Senior Living currently ranks as the largest assisted living company in the United States according to the American Health Care Association, with 1,140 facilities in 47 states.