$190,000 Settlement in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Store for Failure to Accommodate, Training Ordered

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Question:  Would disability discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.
D&H Company, Dodge Brothers,  Inc., and Giant Oil Company of Arkansas, Inc., doing business as Savings  Station Dodge Stores and Dodge’s Chicken Store, will pay $190,000 to settle a  disability lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC).

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged  that the companies denied the store leader of their Dodge’s Chicken Store 631  in Hot Springs, Ark., a reasonable accommodation after she had seizures. Because her  doctor restricted her from driving, she requested that the employer allow  another employee to conduct daily competitor gasoline price surveys while she  handled that employee's in-store duties.  The defendants denied her request for an accommodation and discharged  her.

Denial of a reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities violates  Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended by the  Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The EEOC filed suit on  Sept. 28, 2010, No. 6:10-cv-06072, in U.S. District Court for  the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division after first attempting  to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. This case was among the  agency’s first lawsuits filed under the ADAAA.

EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez  noted that President Barack Obama recognized October 2011 as National  Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“The Commission has devoted  considerable attention to ensuring compliance with the ADA through the issuance of policy and public  attention,” said Lopez. “As reflected by  this case, however, the EEOC, when necessary, is prepared to litigate to ensure  that persons with disabilities have fair opportunity for economic  independence. Indeed, last fiscal year,  the EEOC filed approximately 60 disability discrimination cases.”

Faye A. Williams, regional attorney  for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, added,  “Reasonable accommodations allow many individuals with disabilities to  work. Employers should understand their  obligation to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation unless it  poses an undue hardship. The EEOC remains  committed to its responsibility in enforcing the ADA.”

In addition to monetary relief, the  terms of the 30-month consent decree require that the defendants create a  disability policy in its employee handbook for distribution to all its employees;  provide for training under the ADA; maintain records of any disability  complaints; provide reports to the EEOC; and post a notice to employees about  the lawsuit that includes the EEOC’s contact information.

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