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EEOC Gets Summary Judgment On “Textbook Case”

M.G.H. Family Health Center acted way too quickly in dismissing an employee on “medical hold” and lost on summary judgment as a result.

Avis Lane was an outreach-enrollment coordinator for M.G.H. Before starting this job, she had to submit to a post-offer pre-employment physical examination. The doctor conducting the exam recommended that Ms. Lane be placed on a medical hold because of some medications that she was taking. It was recommended that she undergo a functional capacity assessment. Ms. Lane began her employment and worked for a month with the hold in place. However, MGH decided to just fire her.

The federal district court found three things that M.G.H. did incorrectly. First, it did not engage in an individualized assessment. Second, it ignored the doctor’s recommendation that Ms. Lane complete a functional capacity evaluation. Lastly, Ms. Lane was fired after she had been performing her job just fine and even though her own doctor had submitted supporting materials that she was able to perform her job. The court noted “this case presents a peculiar fact pattern that represents a textbook case for unlawful discrimination under the regarded-as-disabled prong of the ADA.” M.G.H. will pay $21,000 and entered a three-year consent decree to develop and implement policies that comply with the ADA.