by Scott Grammer
On September 18, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) filed suit in Arizona against Corizon Health, Inc. and Corizon LLC. The purpose of the litigation was “to correct Corizon’s nationwide unlawful employment policies and practices that discriminate on the basis of disability and to provide appropriate relief for Charging Parties Elizabeth McCrehin, Ann Pogue, Nicole Moore, Linda Magnelli, Barbara McCormick, and other similarly situated qualified aggrieved individuals who were adversely affected by Corizon’s unlawful actions,” according to the complaint.
The suit alleged that “[a]s a matter of policy or practice, Corizon would not approve modified job duties, allow more than twelve weeks of leave permitted by the FMLA [Family Medical Leave Act], allow extended leave past an unpaid 30-day medical leave, or allow employees to return to work without being fully healed.... Corizon has failed to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees with disabilities when the employee requests an accommodation or when Corizon is on notice that the employee needs an accommodation.”
Further, the company was accused of “harass[ing] qualified employees with disabilities because of their disabilities.... Corizon has engaged in harassment of some of its qualified employees with disabilities because of their need for reasonable accommodations.... Corizon has retaliated against qualified employees with disabilities.... Corizon has failed to promote qualified aggrieved individuals because of their disabilities or need for reasonable accommodations.... [and] Corizon has enforced a rigid and inflexible 30-day medical leave policy.”
The company filed an answer on November 26, 2018, denying the allegations that it “implemented, or engaged in, any unlawful policies, practices or conduct alleged in the complaint.” Nevertheless, Corizon agreed in May 2019 to pay a $950,000 settlement, which will be “allocated collectively to the Charging Parties and the identified other aggrieved individuals in amounts determined by the Commission.” The company also agreed to a 36-month consent decree enforced by the district court, during which it “shall not engage in any employment practice which discriminates on the basis of disability, including but not limited to, failure to provide reasonable accommodations, discriminatory discharge, discriminatory failure to promote, retaliation, subjecting employees to a hostile work environment, using discriminatory qualification standards, and implementing methods of administration that violate the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act].” Corizon also agreed to provide annual staff training and to hire a monitor to ensure compliance with its ADA obligations.
EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said of the case, “We are very concerned that so many employers violate the ADA with discriminatory policies. Employers need to consider additional unpaid leave and reassignment as reasonable accommodations when an employee is unable to do their job even with reasonable accommodations. We look forward to Corizon taking significant steps under this decree to better protect the rights of employees with disabilities.”
Corizon provides health care services to prisoners at over 500 prisons and jails in 26 states. Ironically, the company’s website lists “Accountability” as one of its core values, saying, “We do the right thing regardless of the situation.” See: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Corizon Health, Inc.,U.S.D.C. (D. AZ), Case No. 2:18-cv-02942-PHX-DLR.
Additional sources: natlawreview.com, corizonhealth.com, dol.gov
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Related legal case
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Corizon Health, Inc.
|Cite||U.S.D.C. (D. AZ), Case No. 2:18-cv-02942-PHX-DLR|