Jewel-Osco to Pay EEOC $400,000 in Attorneys' Fees and Costs

Monday, March 9, 2015

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed notice in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that the Jewel-Osco chain of grocery stores has agreed to pay the EEOC $400,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

The payment comes as the result of a Dec. 2, 2014 court order by Judge Ronald Guzman requiring the company to cover such costs. The award was part of the relief granted to the EEOC's Chicago District Office when it prevailed in a contempt proceeding brought against the com­pany for violations of a previously agreed upon consent decree.

That decree was entered to resolve prior EEOC litigation against the company under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in which the agency charged that the company routinely failed to provide reasonable accommodations to employees seeking to return to work from a disability leave. 

After a three-day contempt hearing, Magistrate Michael Mason found that the company failed to comply with the decree's requirement that Jewel-Osco reasonably accommodate employees seeking to return to work from a disability leave, and Judge Guzman affirmed his findings in his December 2014 decision.  The $400,000 payment comes on top of more than $82,000 that Jewel-Osco was ordered to pay to three affected employees who were not returned to work. 

Because the federal laws against employment discrimination generally do not permit the EEOC to recover fees even where the agency prevails on a substantive claim of discrimination, it is rare for the agency to obtain fees for its work. 

Jewel-Osco is owned by New Albertsons, Inc., and operates a large chain of grocery and drug stores in the Midwest. 

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