EEOC Files Discrimination Case Against Hospital Housekeeping Systems

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Hospital Housekeeping Systems LLC (HHS) in federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas on Tuesday alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The filing argues that a physical abilities test HHS requires its employees to take and pass unlawfully screens out those with disabilities.

The complaint explains that the EEOC filed the complaint on behalf of five HHS employees and a similarly situated class. It further states that the EEOC is the executive agency charged with the administration of Titles I and V of the ADA and has authority to bring the action under the foregoing law.

HHS has reportedly been in the business of providing housekeeping services to hospitals throughout the United States since 1975. In 2015, HHS instituted an “Essential Function Test” (EFT) to measure strength, dexterity, and flexibility among other physical abilities. 

The test requires HHS employees to do things like bend and touch their toes 10 times and hold 20 pounds at arm’s length from the body for 20 seconds. HHS reportedly terminates employees who do not pass every segment of the test.

The EEOC contends that this practice is unlawful because it is more stringent than the ADA’s standard, which requires that employees be able to perform “essential job functions.” The five charging plaintiffs either failed the test based on qualified disabilities or refused to take the test based on medical advice.

The complaint states two claims for relief: using a discriminatory qualification standard and illegal discharge. It requests a multitude of injunctive relief measures requiring HHS to comply with the ADA, implement non-discriminatory hiring and retention practices, and monetary relief including back pay and punitive damages for the claimants.