Sears, Roebuck Settles in Record $6.2 Million Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with EEOC
October 1, 2009
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced this week the approval of a consent decree by Federal District Judge Wayne Andersen, resolving the $6.2 million lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck and Co. under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)--the largest ADA single lawsuit settlement amount in EEOC history.
As Orange County, California, Employment Lawyers, we have been following this case--and the EEOC's fight to uphold the American's With Disabilities Act, protecting employees from disability discrimination in the workplace.
According to the EEOC's press release, the class action lawsuit was filed in 2004, accusing Sears of providing an inflexible worker's compensation leave exhaustion policy, as well as terminating employees without attempting first to provide reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.
John Rowe, Chicago District Director for the EEOC, claimed that this class action lawsuit stemmed from a discrimination charge filed by John Bava, a former technician at Sears. Bava sustained an injury while working at an Illinois- based Sears, and took a worker's compensation leave of absence. Although still injured from the job, Bava tried to return back to work repeatedly. Instead of giving Bava a possibility for returning to work with his disability, Sears terminating his job when his worker's compensation leave expired.
John Hendrickson, Regional Attorney of Chicago District's EEOC Office, stated in the EEOC press release that prior to the trial, hundreds of employees in similar circumstances were discovered--workers who had also taken leave for disability, and were fired by Sears--not reasonably accommodated as required by ADA law. Many of these employees only discovered that they had been fired, after their discount cards were rejected while shopping at local Sears retail stores.
Along with the $6.2 million settlement, the consent decree includes an injunction against violating the ADA, as well as retaliation. Sears will also be required to change its workers compensation leave policy, provide the EEOC with written reports detailing workers compensation practices as well as ADA employer compliance, make the decree visible at Sears locations, and train all employees on ADA law.
Stuart Ishimaru, the EEOC's acting chairman stated that this case proves that after nearly twenty years of the ADA enactment, the rights of individuals with disabilities in the workplace are still compromised. He also claimed that this record-setting settlement sends a strong message that the EEOC will protect workers' rights and advance equal employment opportunities for disabled individuals.
Sears, Roebuck to Pay $6.2 Million for Disability Bias, EEOC Press Release, September 29, 2009
EEOC Reaches $6.2M Disability Settlement with Sears, Business Insurance.com, September 29, 2009
Sears Roebuck Agrees to Record $6.2M ADA Settlement with EEOC, ADA Journal.com, September 29, 2009
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If you or someone you know in Orange County or throughout Southern California has been discriminated against in the workplace because of a disability, our Anaheim-based team of experienced Employment Lawyers can help find a solution for your recovery. Contact Howard Law, PC today.