Nursing home faces liability for hundreds of workers required to go through pre-employment medical screening, federal judge rules

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Residents refused meds, tried to flee secure unit since talking to surveyor, nursing home charges
Residents refused meds, tried to flee secure unit since talking to surveyor, nursing home charges

A Pennsylvania skilled nursing provider cannot escape liability for hiring hundreds of workers after illegal medical screenings, a federal judge recently ruled.

Grane Healthcare subjected nearly 300 applicants to medical examinations and screenings as part of the application process to work at the Cambria Care Center in Ebensburg, PA, the government alleged in a 2010 lawsuit. Cambria is a 301-bed SNF.

Grane has acknowledged that these examinations did occur, but asked for a reconsideration of its liability for the roughly 200 workers who ultimately were hired. In composing the relevant part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Congress intended only to protect workers from being denied job opportunities due to a medical condition or disability, Grane argued.

In fact, the law prohibits pre-employment medical screenings “regardless of the results or response,” District Judge Kim R. Gibson of the Western District of Pennsylvania wrote.

Not all of the people who were hired might be eligible to receive damages due to the illegal screenings, but since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is not seeking monetary relief for these individuals, this is not an issue, Gibson noted. However, the statutory violations are grounds for injunctive relief, and Grane has been permanently enjoined from conducting any “medical examinations and inquiries” prior to giving job offers to applicants.

Grane rejected about 80 applicants who underwent medical exams, and at least 10 of these people were rejected due to findings of the exams, according to local reports.

The case against Grane now will proceed. This latest ruling, handed down on July 7, is not meant to present any opinion on whether the government will succeed in obtaining any monetary damages, Gibson wrote.

Grane had not responded to inquires from McKnight's as of press time.

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