EEOC Settles “Historic” ADA Class Action – A Lesson for All Employers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just issued a statement that it settled a case on November 9th in what it calls an “historic” class action suit under the ADA against Interstate Distributor Company for $4.85million.  The suit alleged that pursuant to the company’s “maximum leave” and “no restrictions” for work policies, the company denied reasonable accommodation to hundreds of employees and fired them. The policies were quite illegal. Under the maximum leave policy, any employee needing more than 12 weeks of leave was fired – no questions asked and no reasonable accommodations discussed. Under the no restrictions policy, an employee with a medical restriction was refused a return to work and, again, no questions were asked and no reasonable accommodations discussed. This settlement shows how aggressive the government is in protecting employee rights and requiring the need for employers to have attendance policies which take into account the need for paid or unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities.