New Mexico nursing home to pay $145,000 settlement over firing of worker on medical leave

Share this content:

A skilled nursing facility in New Mexico has agreed to a $145,000 settlement over charges that it improperly fired an employee who was on medical leave, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.

The federal agency had filed a lawsuit on behalf of Doug Johnson, who worked as a van driver and central supply clerk at the 119-bed Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation in Albuquerque. Johnson had a heart attack in 2011 and subsequently was diagnosed with diabetes and other conditions, according to the EEOC. He filed for time off under the Family Medical Leave Act, and the facility approved 12 weeks.

Paloma Blanca contacted Johnson after only five weeks of leave and said that he was being laid off as part of a general “reduction in force.” However, no other employees were fired at that time, indicating that Johnson was being terminated due to his medical conditions, the EEOC alleged.

In addition to the monetary relief, Paloma Blanca has agreed to review its policies and distribute information to employees about disability discrimination and retaliation, the EEOC stated in a press release.

Paloma Blanca had not responded to a phone call from McKnight's as of press time.