What's New? (Updated 11/12)
Rite Aid to Pay $250,000 to Settle Epilepsy Employment Discrimination Case
On November 5, 2012, Rite Aid, one of the country's largest drug store chains, agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against it in Maryland federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and a Washington, DC law firm, which charged that the company discriminated against an employee with epilepsy at its Maryland distribution facility. The Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund provided significant legal support to the law firm representing the employee, Christopher Fultz (and had referred Mr. Fultz to the firm for legal representation in 2008). Jeremy P. Monteiro, the lead attorney on the case at the firm -- Webster, Fredrickson, Correia & Puth, PLLC -- noted that the Legal Defense Fund was "instrumental in achieving this great outcome by educating us on epilepsy and discussing legal strategy."
Rite Aid, allegedly based on concerns about safety risks related to Mr. Fultz's epilepsy, terminated him from his position as a pharmacy order agent at the company's customer service center in Maryland. The company allegedly failed, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to properly assess whether his particular condition did indeed pose an unacceptable risk, and whether any reasonable accommodations (workplace modifications) could have eliminated or reduced any such risks.In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement requires Rite Aid to modify its policies applicable at the facility to ensure compliance with the ADA's requirements regarding reasonable accommodations and individualized assessments of employees with epilepsy and other disabilities, and to provide training on ADA issues tor managers.Congratulations to the EEOC and the firm for the fabulous work in litigating this case.
Settlement Reached for Worker Rejected Based on Her Use of Antiseizure Medication
On May 23, 2012, an assisted living and nursing home facility in Vale, Oregon agreed to pay $80,000 and apologize to a job applicant with epilepsy to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. According to the EEOC lawsuit, Pioneer Place Assisted Living refused to hire Pamila Bourasa for a cook position even though Ms. Bourasa had already completed a positive interview and had discussed a start date. When informed that she needed to pass a drug test before beginning work, Ms. Bourasa mentioned that she had epilepsy and was taking a prescription medication that would show up on the drug test. She believed she had a secure job offer and had already quit her prior job when Pioneer Place rejected her because of drug test results. Under the consent decree settling the suit, in addition to paying Ms. Bourasa $80,000, the company will train all employees and managers on disability law, implement anti-discrimination policies on interviewing and hiring, and make annual reports to the EEOC for three years.
For information on other recent case developments regarding the rights of people with epilepsy, see the current issue of the Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund's newsletter.
Health Insurance: Where to Find Health Insurance and How to Pay for It
The Foundation has developed guidance on access to employer-based health insurance and private insurance, along with information on Medicaid and Medicare. The guidance includes information on the benefits available under the Affordable Care Act. For this guidance and other materials on the rights of people with epilepsy, see the Legal Information Center page on the Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund's site.
Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Students with Epilepsy
For an overview of the rights of students with epilepsy, see the lead article of the current issue of the Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund's newsletter. The article provides practical tips that parents may use in advocating for their children's rights in school, along with a description of helpful resources.