You’d think that a medical practice would be a place of employment in which medical disabilities, including migraine, would be understood and accommodated. Right? Evidently not.
Muskegon Family Care, a medical services provider located in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, violated federal law by firing an employee due to a disability - her migraines, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed on September 23, 2015.
According to EEOC’s suit, Avis Lane worked for Muskegon Family Care as an outreach enrollment coordinator for over a month when she was fired in October of 2013, based on information obtained during her pre-employment physical.
Firing an employee due to a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). EEOC filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (EEOC v. M.G.H. Family Health Center d/b/a Muskegon Family Care, Civil Case No.: 1:15-CV-00952) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC’s lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief – including a court order prohibiting Muskegon Family Care from firing disabled employees in the future.
Laurie Young, regional attorney for EEOC’s Indianapolis District, said,
“Firing a qualified employee, who successfully performed the job for over a month, based on information obtained during a physical violates the ADA. Employers cannot use recommendations from a third-party health examiner without determining for itself whether the employee can actually do the job.”
Muskegon Family Care has been in hot water with the EEOC before. They paid over $85,000 in 2009 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit that the EEOC had filed.
Comments, Implications for Migraine Patients
Evidently, the people who run Muskegon Family Care learned nothing from their 2009 experience with the EEOC. To me, they appear to be legally, morally, and ethically challenged, to say the least. If I were one of their patients, I’d be getting a copy of my records, then never setting foot there again.
I’m not happy that Ms. Lane was so badly treated, of course, but I’m thrilled that she reported this and that the EEOC has filed the lawsuit. If anyone reading this has had a similar situation, I hope you’ve reported it to the EEOC or will consider doing so. Essentially, employers who behave as Muskegon Family Care has are bullies, and bullies need to be taken down.
- Migraines, Perfume, and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Working with Migraines: Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Press Release. “EEOC Sues Muskegon Family Care for Disability Discrimination.” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Detroit. September 23, 2015.
Hogan, John. “Feds sue Muskegon health center over worker’s headaches.” WZZM13. September 23, 2015.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.