According to the EEOC, Interstate unlawfully failed to make reasonable accommodations for hundreds of employees. Instead, the company fired the employees as per part of their maximum leave policy.
Under International’s challenged leave policy, rather than determining if an employee was requesting a reasonable amount of time off work, if an employee needed more than 12 weeks of leave, Interstate automatically terminated the employee.
The company’s maximum leave policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “The law requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as paid or unpaid leave or some modifications to the job functions or reassignment, to an employee with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer,” the EEOC said in a statement.
The EEOC worked with Interstate to reach a pre-litigation settlement though its mediation process. The mediation decree would resolve the EEOC’s lawsuit and the 7 charges of discrimination filed against Interstate.
EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said, “I note that this outstanding and highly impactful resolution occurred during National Disability Rights Awareness month. I am pleased the parties were able to resolve this historic case without resorting to prolonged and expensive litigation and proud that the Commission has been very successful, particularly recently, in ensuring that people with disabilities are protected from workplace discrimination.”
Nancy Sienko, field director for the Denver office, added, “This settlement demonstrates 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.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Mary O’Neill added, “This consent decree is the result of productive and thoughtful negotiations with Interstate. We appreciate Interstate working with the EEOC to reach a settlement. In addition to providing meaningful monetary relief for hundreds of former Interstate employees, the settlement contains important equitable relief, including company policy changes and training designed to provide people with disabilities equal opportunities in the workplace.”