Friday, November 09, 2012

EEOC Reaches $4.85 Million Settlement with Interstate Distributor Company

See this press release, which begins:
Interstate Distributor Company will pay $4.85 million and provide other significant relief to settle a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC's suit said the nationwide trucking firm unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and fired them pursuant to Interstate's maximum leave policy.

According to the EEOC's suit, under the challenged leave policy, if an employee needed more than 12 weeks of leave, Interstate automatically terminated them rather than determining if it would be reasonable to provide additional leave as an accommodation. The EEOC also charged that Interstate violated federal law by refusing to make exceptions to its "no restrictions" policy. Under this policy, if an employee had restrictions, Interstate refused to allow them to return to work and failed to determine if there were reasonable accommodations that would allow the employee to return to work with restrictions. 
Interstate's maximum leave and no restrictions policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as paid or unpaid leave or some modifications to the job functions or reassignment, to an employee with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.
This is a very big settlement for the EEOC -- and a big reminder to other companies that maintain such restrictive and inflexible leave policies that they do so at their peril.

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