Woman Sues Eugene Dental Surgery Practice, Claiming Discrimination
A Springfield woman who was fired by a Eugene dental surgery practice is suing the company, claiming she was discriminated against after undergoing surgery.
Stephanie Hodges, who was a clerical employee at Northwest Surgical Arts, accuses the company of violating the American With Disabilities Act for not accommodating her needs. About a year and a half ago, she had an operation to remove a tumor near her uterus, the lawsuit says. When she returned to work, she asked the company, which does business as Northwest Oral & Implant Surgery, to work fewer hours a day. Her normal schedule had been 10 hours a day, four days a week. The lawsuit says the company responded by firing her.
The oral surgery practice has not yet entered a response to the lawsuit, which was filed July 6 in U.S. District Court in Eugene.
“We understand that before Ms. Hodges filed her lawsuit the (federal) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated her claims and determined they could not be substantiated. We are confident the court will reach the same conclusion,” said Andy Lewis, an attorney for the oral surgery practice.
The lawsuit shows that Hodges did file a complaint with the federal agency and that the agency gave Hodges clearance to file a civil lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that Northwest Oral approved her request for medical leave from November 2019 through January 2020. She returned to work on Jan. 28, the lawsuit says.
She had the surgery “to remove a softball sized fibroid tumor from the right back side of her uterus,” the lawsuit says. After the operation, she had “an impairment that limited major life functions, including normal cell growth and reproductive functions, as well as her ability to perform manual tasks, walk, stand, lift, bend and work,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that Hodges’ disability was protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a federal law. Once back at work, Hodges told her employer that 10-hour shifts were “extremely difficult on her body” and that she temporarily needed to work shorter shifts, according to the complaint. Sshe requested an accommodation under the ADA, the suit says.
Less than two weeks later, the business told her she was “not a good fit,” and terminated her, the complaint says.
It accuses the dental company of failing to engage in an “interactive process” with Hodges to try to accommodate her disability.
A manager at the firm said Hodges had been “disrespectful” in a phone call in early February, but Hodges denied being disrespectful.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of back pay, damages and attorneys’ fees.
You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].