Federal civil rights agency sues HMSA for alleged workplace discrimination

Updated: Jun. 28, 2018 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's largest health insurance provider is facing a class-action lawsuit after denying intermittent leave to employees with disabilities without discussing other options.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission filed the the complaint, alleging that HMSA's policy change gave employees the option to either forfeit the accommodation or resign.

The EEOC's class-action lawsuit seeks back pay, along with "compensatory and punitive damages for the claimant and class." The suit also seeks "injunctive relief" intended to prevent and address discrimination.

"Blanket employment policies that negatively affect a group of individuals can be discriminatory," said Gloria Gervacio Saure, director of the EEOC's Honolulu office, in a statement. "Employers should routinely audit their policies and practices to make sure they are not unlawfully discriminating against their employees."

The Hawaii Medical Service Association insures over half of the state's population.

"We have no immediate comment on this lawsuit as HMSA has not been officially served, notwithstanding the copies of the lawsuit given to the news media," said Elisa Yadao, HMSA's senior vice president, in the statement.

"HMSA complies fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act and its requirement for reasonable accommodation for employees covered by the ADA," Yadao said.

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