According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Sears, Roebuck and Co. (Sears) has agreed to settle a class lawsuit for the sum of $6.2 million and other remedial relief. It was alleged by the EEOC that “Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the (Americans with Disabilities Act).”
This lawsuit arose after the EEOC investigated a charge of discrimination filed by a former Sears service technician, John Bava. It is said by the EEOC that after Bava was injured on the job, leaving him with a disability, Sears did not provide Bava with an accommodation to return to work, despite Bava’s repeated attempt to return to work. In fact, once Bava’s leave expired, it is said that Sears terminated Bava’s employment. The EEOC says that Pre-trial discovery concerning Bava’s claims uncovered the fact that Sears had terminated hundreds of other employees who had taken workers’ compensation leave, failing to consider reasonable accommodations to return these employees to work.
Sears has agreed to an injunction preventing future violations of the ADA and retaliation against employees. Sears has also agreed to “amend its workers’ compensation leave policy, provide written reports to the EEOC detailing its workers’ compensation practices’ compliance with the ADA, train its employees regarding the ADA, and post a notice of the decree at all Sears locations.”
The EEOC says that the significant cost of the settlement to Sears was warranted, as they found “well over a hundred former employees who wanted to return to work with an accomodation, but were terminated by Sears.” The court has approved the consent settlement decree and is scheduled to hold another hearing to determine the fairness of the distributions that will be made to individuals.
It is unfortunate that often workers injured while working with a company have a hard time returning to work because the company refuses to offer them accommodations. The disabled worker, disabled as a result of their employment, is thereafter considered a burden to the company and often fired as a result. Our law firm has experience representing injured workers in workers’ compensation disputes as well as employees who have been discriminated against. If you would like to discuss your legal rights, we welcome your call and will provide a free consultation.