Nurse Responsible for Dispensing Methadone Sues Clinic for Failing to Accommodate Her Severe Pain

A New York health clinic is being sued by a nurse it employed for discriminatory termination and failure to accommodate her disability.

Gladys Bass, a Licensed Practical Nurse, was employed by the Center for Comprehensive Health Practice in East Harlem from August 2013 to December 2013 and from August 2014 to April 18, 2016. According to the complaint, Bass was responsible for dispensing Methadone to patients in CCHP’s substance abuse clinic. Bass claims she was qualified for her position and consistently met the the clinic’s performance expectations.

In Fall of 2013, Bass was involved in a serious automobile accident, and suffered injuries to her spine, including herniated and bulging discs. She was placed on disability for about eight months by her physician. 

In the complaint she claims she was wrongly terminated in December 2013, according to the complaint, but by July 2014, she had recovered from her back injuries, and was rehired that summer.

In Winter of 2016, Bass says she fell and re-injured herself while shoveling snow. She informed her supervisor that day, as well as CCHP’s human resources department on January 27, that she was unable to work as scheduled. Her doctor placed her on medical leave until February 2. But at that time she claims she was still experiencing significant back pain and could not return to work. As a result, her leave was extended to February 23, 2016.

Her doctor provided FMLA paperwork indicating she should stay out of work until spring of 2016.  

Upon realizing she was still in severe pain, and not scheduled to see her physician until April 26, 2016, she asked human resources for an extension of her FMLA leave and a reasonable accommodation until she could see her doctor. CCHP responded by informing her that “her FMLA would expire April 18, 2016 and that if she did not return by that date, [they] could no longer hold her position due to ‘disruption of services,’” according to the complaint.

When Bass was unable to return to work on the 18th, CCHP sent her an email terminating her employment.  She alleges that the termination “was motivated by discrimination based on Ms. Bass’ disability and retaliation because she requested an accommodation,” the complaint states.

Bass is represented by Liane Fisher of Fisher Taubenfeld. The suit was filed in the Southern District of New York and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and front and back pay.

CCHP did not return an email requesting comment.

Image Source: (Geneva Sampson (Flickr))