Woman Battling Breast Cancer Fired When She Attempted to Return to Work, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE – A White Marsh, Md., medical practice violated federal law when it refused to return an employee to work who had recovered from breast cancer surgery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00803-WDQ), filed in U.S District Court for the District of Maryland, Medical Health Group, Inc., violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it discriminated against Barbara Metzger by firing her when she had attempted to return to work. Metzger had been employed as a referral clerk for the practice for nearly 25 years; the practice was acquired by Medical Health Group, Inc. in 2002. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2007 and fired on May 31, 2007, about one week before her approved medical leave ended. At the time of her termination, Metzger had informed the defendant that she planned to work while undergoing her remaining chemotherapy sessions and radiation therapy.
The EEOC filed the suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency seeks monetary relief and injunctive relief, including back wages, compensatory damages, changes in employment policies to eliminate future disability-based discrimination and punitive damages.
“We bring lawsuits like this to provide appropriate protection for working women who are battling or who have battled breast cancer,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “It is hard to understand how a medical practice could blatantly disregard its statutory obligation and summarily fire a qualified employee who had devoted 25 years of service to her employer.”
In FY 2008, the EEOC announced that workplace discrimination charge filings increased 15 percent to an unprecedented level of 95,402. The EEOC received 19,453 charges of disability discrimination in fiscal year 2008.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.