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Corizon Health Settles With Phoenix EEOC Over ADA Violation Allegations

One of the nation's largest correctional health care providers, Corizon Health, will pay $950,000 to plaintiffs who alleged the company was in violation the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Phoenix Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  filed a lawsuit in federal court in 2018 against Arizona’s prison health care contractor, Corizon Health, alleging discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

On Thursday,  the parties agreed to settle. Corizon Health will pay $950,000 to 23 individuals who the EEOC claims were harmed by the company’s policies. 

In a statement, the EEOC said Corizon "refused to accommodate employees with disabilities seeking other accommodations; subjected employees to a hostile work environment due to their disabilities and/or need for accommodation; retaliated against some employees because they engaged in protected activity; terminated employees who had disabilities or needed accommodations; and refused to promote one employee because of her disability and/or need for accommodation."

Jim Driscoll-MacEachron, a supervisory trial attorney at the EEOC, said the suit raised a number of allegations, "including that they did not provide reasonable accommodations, particularly when employees had exhausted otherwise available leave," he said. 

Driscoll-MacEachron said the lawsuit involved facilities across the country where employees faced harassment for their disabilities.

The judge presiding over the case entered a consent decree and appointed a monitor who will oversee Corizon for three years as it changes its policies and attempts to comply with the ADA.

"As a public law enforcement agency," Driscoll-MacEachron said, "it's important for us not to only to get relief for the people we alleged were harmed by the policies and practices as issue but also to put in place policies and procedures that will help prevent future acts of discrimination.

He said that process will include ADA coaches who will train Corizon employees.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.