The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that Interstate Distributor Company will pay $4.85 million and provide other significant relief to settle a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by Agency. The EEOC's suit charged that 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, the company’s leave policy states if an employee needed more than 12 weeks of leave, Interstate automatically terminated them rather than determining if it could reasonably accommodate additional leave. 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.
According to the EEOC, 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.
In addition to the $4.85 million in monetary relief, a three-year consent decree includes injunctions against engaging in any further discrimination or retaliation based on disability, and requires the company to revise its policies and ADA policy to include reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Interstate will provide mandatory periodic training on the ADA to employees. The company will also report to the EEOC about all employee complaints of disability discrimination relating to the attendance policy and about Interstate's compliance with the consent decree. The company also agreed to post a notice about the settlement. Finally, Interstate will appoint an internal consent decree monitor to ensure its compliance with the decree.
For more information about the EEOC and the federal regulations it enforces, go to its web site at www.eeoc.gov.