Nursing home providers hit with disability, racial discrimination lawsuits from EEOC

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Friday against a Maryland skilled nursing facility, arguing that it failed to promote an employee based on her race and age. 

The lawsuit argues that the McCready Foundation, which operates healthcare and long-term care facilities in Maryland, passed over the employee because she was black and older than another job candidate. The woman, 53, was hired as a geriatric nursing assistant at McCready's Alice Byrd Tawes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Crisfield, MD, in February 2013. She applied to a restorative aide position, which paid $4 more per hour, in July 2014.

The EEOC's lawsuit claims the woman was passed over for the job in favor of a white employee 30 years her junior who had worked at the facility for only three months. The 53-year-old employee also had more experience and a certification in restorative nursing, which the other employee did not, the EEOC said. 

The suit argues that McCready did not adhere to its own internal transfer policy, which typically requires that employees work for the organization for at least 12 months before being transferred. The provider also allegedly failed to preserve personnel and employment records, which is required by federal law.

“McCready disregarded its own promotion policy and failed to promote an employee who had substantially more company and industry experience, as well as a relevant certification, simply because of her race and age,” said Kevin Berry, acting district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia office. “That's illegal and unjust, and that's why we filed this suit.”

A second lawsuit was also filed Friday by the EEOC against Harborview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Morehead City, NC. The complaint says that Harborview failed to accommodate a certified nursing assistant with rheumatoid arthritis and eventually fired her due to her disability.

The CNA, Katrina Friend, was hired in 2015. Friend went without her medications in July 2015 due to not yet receiving her insurance card from Harborview, and as a result had a flare-up that made it difficult for her to pick up or grip objects. Friend restarted her medication in August 2015, and requested four weeks of light duty from Harborview to give the medication time to kick in.

Instead, the provider reportedly placed Friend on unpaid leave and offered her no accommodation. She was originally told that she could return to work at the end of the four weeks, but was eventually fired for exceeding Harborview's maximum two-week leave policy.

"Employers must consider exceptions to light duty and leave policies when necessary to comply with the ADA's mandate to reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC office in Charlotte, NC.

Requests for comment from both McCready and Harborview were not returned by production deadline Monday.