FILE - This July 23, 2014 file photo shows a state prison in Florence, Ariz. In May 2019, Corizon Health Inc. and Corizon LLC that provide health care in jails and prisons across the United States, including this one in Florence, have agreed to pay $950,000 to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it discriminated against employees with disabilities by failing to accommodate them, requiring them to be fully healed before they can return to work, and firing them. (AP Photo/File)

Prison health care provider resolves disabilities lawsuit

May 17, 2019 - 2:27 pm

PHOENIX (AP) — Two companies that provide health care in jails and prisons across the United States have agreed to pay $950,000 to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it discriminated against employees with disabilities by failing to accommodate them, requiring them to be fully healed before they can return to work, and firing them.

A consent-decree agreement signed by a judge on Wednesday requires Corizon Health Inc. and Corizon LLC to provide annual training to employees who qualify under the Americans With Disabilities Act, review its policies and, if necessary, make changes to ensure equal employment opportunities are available to all employees and job applicants with disabilities.

The lawsuit was filed last summer in Arizona, but the agreement applies to all Corizon facilities in the United States.

The two companies provide health care to jail and prison inmates in more than 20 states, including Arizona, California, New York, New Mexico, Michigan, Colorado and Tennessee. Corizon has served as Arizona's prison health care provider for the last six years, though another company will take over those duties in July.

The companies have agreed to hire an outsider with experience in employment-discrimination law to monitor their compliance with the agreement and designate at least three employees to oversee accommodation requests by employees with disabilities and assist human-resource and supervisory employees with their ADA responsibilities.

The companies didn't acknowledge any violations of the ADA by entering into the agreement.

The $950,000 in proceeds will be split among 23 former Corizon employees from across the United States.

The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that the companies refused to accommodate employees with disabilities who had exhausted their leave under Corizon's 30-day medical leave policy or the Family and Medical Leave Act.

It also alleged the companies had a policy of requiring employees with a disability to be 100% healed or to be without medical restrictions before they could return to work.

Corizon had denied the allegations in the lawsuit.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.

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