‘Singled Out’: Lawsuit Claims Kaiser Permanente Denied ‘Competency Test’ Accommodation for Ex-Employee with Disability
by Erin Shaak
Yarbough v. Kaiser Permanente Georgia Region
Filed: November 3, 2020 ◆§ 1:20-cv-04484
A former Kaiser Permanente Insurance employee claims she was discriminated against based on her disability when the company required her to take a "competency test."
A former employee alleges she was discriminatorily “singled out” when she was required by Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company to take a “competency test,” and denied accommodations for such, to determine if she could keep her job after the Atlanta business learned of her disability diagnosis.
The plaintiff, who worked for Kaiser Permanente Georgia Region between October 2010 and August 2020, alleges she was required to take a “competency test” for a job she already held after she informed the defendant that she had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, conditions protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the suit, the defendant twice denied the plaintiff’s requests for a reasonable accommodation with regard to taking and retaking the test despite possessing knowledge of the woman’s actual, recorded or perceived disability and despite the fact that she had never been involved in any work-related incident that would give Kaiser Permanente the reasonable belief that she was unable to perform the essential functions of her job or posed a safety threat to others.
“Kaiser Permanente categorically refused to accommodate the Plaintiff’s request that she be allowed a postponement to take the test due to mental instability,” the complaint alleges. “Kaiser Permanente never followed up with Plaintiff regarding the proposed request, never offered the Plaintiff any accommodations whatsoever, and completely failed to engage in an interactive process regarding what accommodations could be provided to Plaintiff.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and, pursuant to a “company-wide pattern and practice,” disclosed to Kaiser Permanente in the Fall of 2018 and again in May 2019 that she suffered from the conditions. In 2019, the plaintiff was “singled out” to take a competency test that was given to Kaiser Permanente employees “even if they were already occupying and performing satisfactorily in their current positions,” the suit says.
In March 2019, the plaintiff requested what the lawsuit calls a reasonable accommodation for the test—i.e., a postponement until she was mentally stable enough to sit for the test—but was denied by the defendant, according to the case. Per the complaint, the plaintiff and others were told that they had failed the test despite never having received their scores.
According to the suit, the plaintiff was again required to take the competency test in August 2019 and again requested a postponement that “was denied outright.” Kaiser, the case claims, “categorically refused” to accommodate the plaintiff’s request and told her she had failed the test without providing any test scores.
The lawsuit says the plaintiff was terminated on November 8, 2019 because she “no longer met the job requirements and was not successful passing the second attempt of the competency test.” After this event, the plaintiff timely filed on April 22, 2020 a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued to the woman a right to sue on August 5, the suit provides.
The lawsuit alleges Kaiser Permanente overstepped the Americans with Disabilities Act in that the company discriminated against the plaintiff on the basis of her disability, made an unlawful medical request for disclosure of the plaintiff’s diagnosis, and refused to grant the woman’s request for a reasonable accommodation.
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