VERIZON SETTLES WITH EEOC ON ADA LAWSUIT

by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

In an agreement announced on July 6, 2011, the EEOC reported that Verizon Communications has agreed to a $20 million settlement related to the company’s “no fault” attendance plan (see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/7-6-11a.cfm). Under this plan, employees who accumulate a designated number of “chargeable absences” are placed on a disciplinary step that ultimately, could result in termination. The basis of the original ADA lawsuit is that Verizon failed to provide reasonable accommodations by failing to consider if “chargeable absences” are caused by disabilities. This is the largest EEOC settlement ever in an ADA lawsuit. Court approval is pending.

In addition to the monetary relief, the proposed consent decree, which is for three years, includes injunctions against “engaging in any discrimination or retaliation based on disability, and requires the company to revise its attendance plans, policies and ADA policy to include reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, including excusing certain absences.” Verizon is required to train employees responsible for administering attendance plans on critical requirements of the ADA. Verizon is also required to report individual complaints to the EEOC, post a notice about the settlement, and to appoint an internal monitor to ensure compliance.

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