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Woman with 'shy bladder' sues Iowa hospital

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A woman who sought a job as an administrator at Iowa Methodist Medical Center is now suing the hospital, saying it failed to make accommodations for her shy bladder syndrome.

Jennifer Conner, who graduated from Des Moines University in May 2012 with a master's degree in health care administration, applied for a job as an organ transplant financial coordinator with the hospital, the Des Moines Register reported. Her lawsuit says she was offered the job June 22, with the stipulation that she take and pass a drug test.

Conner was diagnosed in her teens with the anxiety condition paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome, that leaves her unable to urinate in public restrooms or near other people.

Conner's lawsuit says she has managed the condition by running water or flushing a toilet in public restrooms to help mask the sound of her urination.

But when she reported to the hospital's designated facility for a drug test, she was put in a room with no running water and asked to provide a urine sample, according to her lawsuit. Nurses at the facility increased her anxiety by knocking on the door seeking her urine sample, she said.

Conner's lawsuit says she asked the facility and Iowa Methodist officials to make other arrangements for her, including taking a blood-based drug test or using a catheter to extract urine, and offered to pay the cost of such accommodations. They refused. Iowa Methodist officials told her she had until the end of the day to produce a urine sample at the facility or she would be considered as having failed the test.

Shy bladder syndrome is considered a disability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, said Tom Foley, Conner's attorney.

A spokeswoman for UnityPoint, the health system that oversees Iowa Methodist, declined to comment to The Des Moines Register.

Conner's lawsuit asks the court to issue an order to keep Iowa Methodist from discriminating against those with disabilities. She is also seeking an unspecified amount in damages, including those for lost wages and benefits, attorneys' fees, emotional distress and pain and suffering.