Posts Tagged ‘attendance policy’

Out of the Woodwork: Cabinetry Maker Doles Out $25,000 to Settle ADA Suit Over Denial of Leave

This employer’s refusal to budge from its rigid attendance policy cost it not only money but the services of a long-term employee. Naturally, it got sued over this, and earlier this month made the best of a bad situation by settling the matter.

American Woodmark Corporation, a wood cabinetry manufacturer, will pay $25,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Dec. 13.

According to the EEOC’s suit, American Woodmark denied Erica Grier’s request for an accommodation in the form of two days of unpaid leave in order to visit a doctor for treatment of her disabilities. Instead, American Woodmark assessed attendance infraction points to Grier, a 16-year employee of the company, under its rigid attendance policy. American Woodmark fired Grier for exceed­ing the permissible number of attendance points, despite her providing a doctor’s note and updated Family Medical Leave Act forms showing she was absent for purposes of treatment and recovery relating to her disabilities.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s disability. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:19-CV-381-TES) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. In addition to the monetary relief, American Woodmark agreed to create and implement an ADA policy, provide employment discrimination training to its employees, and to post anti-discrimination notices at its Jackson facility. In addition, the decree subjects American Woodmark to reporting and monitoring requirements.

“The use of intermittent medical leave for treatment of a medical condition deemed to be a disability under the ADA is widely recognized as a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC is pleased that American Woodmark agreed to resolve this case and also that it agreed to implement an ADA policy and train its employees on its obligations under the ADA. The discrimin­ation victim in this case has been compen­sated and the employer will be better equipped to respond the next time an applicant or employee seeks leave as an accommodation for a disability.”

Darrell E. Graham, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC is committed to ending disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. An employee should not be forced to risk termination for seeking medical leave as a perfectly reasonable accommodation under the ADA.”

Cabinet Maker in Trouble With EEOC Over Denial of Intermittent Leave to Employee With Epilepsy

All the employee in this case was asking for was two additional days of leave to deal with her disabilities; what she got in return was the loss of her job.

American Woodmark Corporation, a wood cabinetry manufacturer, violated federal law when it denied a quality auditor in its Jackson, Georgia manufacturing plant a reasonable accommodation for her epilepsy, migraines, and heart condition, then fired her because of her disabilities and in retaliation for requesting two days of unpaid leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.

According to the EEOC’s suit, American Woodmark denied the employee’s request for two days of unpaid leave to treat symptoms related to her disabilities. Instead, American Woodmark assessed attendance infraction points to the employee under its rigid attendance policy. They then fired her for exceeding the permissible number of attendance points, despite her providing a doctor’s note and updated Family Medical Leave Act forms proving she was absent for purposes of treatment and recovery relating to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s disability. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:19-cv-00381-TES) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, front pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.

“The use of intermittent medical leave for treatment of a medical condition deemed to be a disability under the ADA is widely recognized as a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “Here, the employee’s request could easily have been granted, but American Woodmark failed to effectively engage in the interactive process and fired her, a 16-year employee of the company, instead of accommodating her.”

Darrell E. Graham, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC is committed to ending disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country. An employee should not be forced to risk termination for seeking medical leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.”

Medstar Attendance Policy Revamped in Settlement of ADA Charge Filed With EEOC

A Washington, D.C. regional health care provider is getting a makeover of its attendance policy so its conforms to federal disabilities rights law.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), MedStar Health, Inc. and MedStar Ambulatory Services, Inc. announced July 1 the successful conciliation and settlement of a charge filed with the agency under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC reached a voluntary resolution with both employers through the agency’s conciliation process following its investigation findings. Neither employer admitted to any wrongdoing or fault in violation of the statute.

In addition to addressing the concerns of the person filing the charge of discrimination, MedStar Health and MedStar Ambulatory Services agreed to implement revised attendance policies that will reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities as required by the ADA. The policies will specifically state that exceptions to their attendance policies will be made when required by the ADA as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. Both employers agreed to disseminate their revised policies to all employees and to the posting of EEOC notices. MedStar Ambulatory Services also agreed to conduct training for all current supervisory and human resources employees.

“We are pleased that MedStar Health, Inc. and MedStar Ambulatory Services, Inc. worked with us to revise this matter informally and took proactive measures to ensure that individuals with disabilities will receive reasonable accommodations when needed,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson.

EEOC Baltimore Field Office Director Rosemarie Rhodes added, “We commend MedStar Health and Medstar Ambulatory Services for working cooperatively with the EEOC to resolve this matter prior to litigation. We encourage all employers to review their policies and procedures, including attendance policies, to ensure that they provide for reasonable accommodations and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.”

The ADA prohibits workplace discrimination based on disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue hardship.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.

Addressing emerging and developing areas of law, including inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

Drilling Down: $140K Recovery for Fired Black & Decker Sales Rep Denied Leave for Medical Issue

Here’s another case in which the collision between an employer’s strict attendance policy and the requirements of federal law catapulted the parties into court.

Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a global diversified industrial company, will pay $140,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced March 5.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Stanley Black & Decker fired an inside sales representative, who had exceeded her sales goals and quotas, at its Towson, Md., facility in December 2016 for poor attend­ance. The EEOC charged that the termination violated federal law because the employee had requested unpaid leave for medical appointments and treatment related to her cancer, but the company failed to provide the requested leave as a reasonable accommodation of her disability. Moreover, the company’s inside sales attendance policy did not provide exceptions for people who need leave as an accommodation to their disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02525) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $140,000 in monetary relief to the employee, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Stanley Black & Decker from denying reasonable accommodations or violating the ADA in the future. The company will update its inside sales attendance policy to provide for reasonable accommodations. Stanley Black & Decker will provide annual training at its Towson facility to inside sales managers, supervisors and human resources personnel on the ADA and its reasonable accommodation requirements. The company will report to the EEOC on how it handled any requests for reasonable accommodations and internal complaints of dis­crimination within its inside sales group. Stanley Black & Decker will post a notice about the settlement and post notices required by EEOC regulations. It will also provide a positive reference for the employee.

“We encourage employers to review their policies and procedures, including attendance policies, to ensure they provide for reasonable accommodations and equal employment opportunities for individ­uals with disabilities,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief to protect workers from disability discrimination. We commend Stanley Black & Decker for resolving this matter amicably and before incurring unnecessary litigation expenses.”

Addressing emerging and developing areas of law, including inflexible leave policies that dis­criminate against individuals with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Intermittent Leave Spat Lands Employer in Court

Why employers tie themselves in knots over giving disabled workers the option to take intermittent leave is beyond me.

Austal USA, LLC, a global designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships headquartered in Mobile, Ala., violated federal law when it applied its attendance policy to terminate a long-term employee who required intermittent leave to address complications of his diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced September 25.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Austal assessed negative points against a warehouse employee for instances of being late to work, leaving work early or being absent for treatment of his diabetes, and then fired him for exceeding the maximum number of points under its attendance policy.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects an employee from discrimination based on his disability when he can perform the essential functions of his job with a reasonable accommodation, such as intermittent medical leave. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for Southern District of Alabama (EEOC v. Austal USA, LLC, 1:18-cv-00416) after the EEOC’s Mobile Local Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“The ADA does not permit an employer to use an internal leave policy to discipline or fire an employee whose disability requires him to take leave,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Once on notice of a disability, an employer must determine whether a reasonable accommodation will help the employee to work.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Federal law requires employers to make a genuine effort to engage in an interactive process to provide reasonable accommodations – such as modifications of leave policies. Nothing supersedes this mandate. The EEOC will continue to seek relief for qualified employees with disabilities who are harmed by blanket leave policies such as this one.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office has jurisdiction over Alabama, Mississippi (all but 17 counties in the northern part of Mississippi), and the Florida Panhandle.

Restrictive Attendance Policy Casualty of Food Concessionaire’s Settlement of ADA Lawsuit

The next time you’re wandering about the food court at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), rest assured the operators of the Dunkin Donuts’ store there have an attendance policy that respects disabled employees’ rights.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today it has settled an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit against OHM Concessions Group LLC-the stores’ operator–for $151,000 stemming from its firing of a regional manager who was seeking additional time off to treat her breast cancer.

The lawsuit alleged that after Joan McMahon O’Donnell was diagnosed with breast cancer and requested unpaid leave for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Dunkin’ Donuts refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and instead abruptly discharged her because of her disability.

With the lawsuit out of the way, OHM can re-direct its energies toward ADA compliance. Under the terms of the agreement, this includes implementing a new attendance policy which includes a provision for requesting reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The restaurant will provide annual ADA training to all supervisors, managers and human resources employees. OHM will also post a notice about the settlement and will report to EEOC about how it handled any internal complaints of alleged disability discrimination.

“Providing a leave of absence for an employee who needs medical treatment related to a disability is not only the decent thing to do – it is required by federal law unless the employer can show it would pose an undue hardship,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.

I wrote about the lawsuit when it was filed last July.

Court: AutoZone Can’t Confine ADA Suit Over Attendance “Points” System to Three Stores

AutoZone cannot limit the scope of an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit to just three of its retail stores, but instead will have to defend against the alleged ADA violation at all of its stores, a federal district court ruled on Nov. 6.

The case centers on the auto parts company’s alleged policy of assessing employees attendance “points” for absences, without permitting any general exception for disability-related absences. In a lawsuit filed against the company in 2014, the EEOC alleged that the policy, at least from 2009 to 2011, caused the firing of qualified employees with disabilities with even modest numbers of disability-related absence, in violation of Title I of the ADA.

The district court rejected the company’s argument that EEOC did not conduct an adequate, “nationwide” investigation prior to filing suit.  The company requested that the suit be limited to just three of the company’s many retail stores as a result.  According to its website, the company operates several thousand stores in 48 states and Puerto Rico.

“[T]he Court may not inquire into the sufficiency of the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation in order to ‘limit’ the scope of the litigation,” the court stated in its order, which was written by U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.  The order also cited the recent decision in Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, in which the Supreme Court stated that courts should not impose additional procedural requirements on such litigation beyond those established by Congress.  The order explained, “this Court would be imposing extra procedural requirements if it required the EEOC to offer additional proof that ‘its investigation was … conducted on a nationwide basis.”

For more information on the lawsuit, click here.

Here’s more information on the Mach Mining ruling.