Verizon to Pay $20 Million to Settle EEOC Disability Suit
Friday, August 19, 2011 | 888 | 0 | min read
Telecommunications giant Verizon Communications announced that it will pay $20 million and provide significant equitable relief to resolve a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The suit, filed against 24 named subsidiaries of Verizon Communications, said the company unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and disciplined and/or fired them pursuant to Verizon’s “no fault” attendance plans. The EEOC viewed the failure to make HR exceptions to be Verizon's decision to not accommodate employees whose "chargeable absences" were supposedly due to disabilities. It should be noted the ADA is very clear that U.S. employers have a requirement to engage in the interactive process and conduct an individualized objective assessment consistent with the "disability" and job to determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation to employees claiming disabilities.
This settlement is the largest in EEOC history and comes on the tail of other large settlements with the EEOC: The $6 million agreement the EEOC reached with Sears in 2009 and a similar issue resolved with Supervalu in January 2011 for $3.2 million. In the Sears case, the EEOC challenged Sears' policy of automatically terminating employees who were on workers' comp due to a disability resulting from a work-related injury. In the Supervalu case, the ADA alleged violations in claiming Supervalu (Jewel-Osco) had a policy and
practice of terminating employees with disabilities when medical leaves of absence ended rather than bringing them back to work with
Employers can no longer require a full duty release or terminate at the end of a leave of absence if they want to stay in compliance with the new regulations. Objective assessments are no longer optional for employers.
Now, there is even more need for the EFA Soft Tissue Management, EFA STM program, A Book End Solution. The baseline, when compared to post EFA, not only documents if there is an injury but assists and complies with the new EEOC and ADAAA regulations and enables the employers to have the documentation and individualized objective assessment required for the interactive process.
Mary Rose Reason is chief executive officer of Insight Diagnostics, a Las Vegas company that provides electrodiagnostic functional assessments of soft-tissue injuries.