Verizon's Class Action Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settles for $20 Million
July 11, 2011
According to a recent press release that our Santa Ana labor and employment attorneys have been following, Verizon Communications will reportedly pay $20 million to settle a class action discrimination lawsuit, after the company was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for failing to accommodate disabled employees.
The lawsuit was reportedly filed against the telecommunications giant and twenty-four Verizon subsidiaries--for denying reasonable accommodations to hundreds of disabled employees, by either disciplining or firing them when they needed more time off than Verizon's leave policy allowed.
Before this lawsuit, Verizon had an employment policy in place that reportedly set a maximum number of employee absences in place. The company would not make exceptions for disabled employees who needed reasonable accommodations in order to work for the company.
The EEOC claims that Verizon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to make exceptions and accommodate employees with disabilities under its "no fault" attendance plans--which disciplined an employee if they accumulated a designated number of "chargeable absences." The EEOC stated that Verizon failed to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled people, especially when "chargeable absences" were caused by disabilities.
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), discrimination based on disability is against the law, and employers must reasonably accommodate the known mental or physical limitations of a disabled individual, applicant or employee who is qualified for the job. Employers are required to provide disabled employees with a reasonable accommodation, such as paid or unpaid leave, unless doing so would cause the employer difficulty or hardship.
The EEOC stated that inflexible leave may deny disabled employees a reasonable accommodation to which they are entitled by law. The settlement, according to the EEOC, demonstrates that employers should have attendance policies in place that take into account the need for paid or unpaid leave of absences as a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees.
The three-year consent decree that settled the discrimination lawsuit, reportedly represents the largest disability discrimination settlement in a single lawsuit in the EEOC's history, and prohibits the company from engaging from any disability discrimination or retaliation in the future. The company is required to revise its attendance employment plans, policies and discrimination policies to include reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, excusing certain absences due to disabilities.
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against based on a disability in an Orange County, California city, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation about your disability rights in the workplace.
Verizon to Pay $20 Million to Settle Nationwide EEOC Disability Suit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, July 6, 2011
Verizon Pays Record $20 Million to End U.S. Disability Case, Bloomberg, July 6, 2011
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