Manager fired days before medical leave for cancer surgery

OHM Concessions Group, LLC, which operates Dunkin' Donuts stores at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, violated federal law when it refused to provide a regional manager with medical leave and instead fired her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced on July 6.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Joan O'Donnell successfully performed her job duties as a regional manager at the company's BWI Dunkin' Donuts locations. After O'Donnell was diagnosed with breast cancer, she emailed the owner to explain that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and would need surgery. She also talked to her supervisor about her diagnosis and requested four to eight weeks of unpaid leave for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. The EEOC charged that Dunkin' Donuts refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and instead abruptly discharged O'Donnell because of her disability just three days before the start of her medical leave.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. OHM Concessions Group, LLC, d/b/a Dunkin Donuts, Civil Action No. 15-1946) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Granting an employee unpaid leave for needed medical treatment is not only the compassionate thing to do, it is required by federal law unless the employer can show it would pose an undue hardship," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "It is disappointing that as we mark the 25th anniversary of the ADA later this month, some employers still fail to understand that a leave of absence for medical treatment related to a disability, such as breast cancer, constitutes a reasonable accommodation."