Court Approves $6.2 Million Distribution in Sears Disability Settlement

Monday, February 15, 2010

There has been a recent court approval of the distribution of a $6,200,000 compensation fund in the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation between the EEOC and Sears, Roebuck & Co.  The distribution is being carried out pursuant to the terms of a consent decree approved by Federal District Judge Wayne Anderson on September 29, 2009.  In its lawsuit against Sears, the EEOC had alleged 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 ADA.  The case resulted in the largest ADA settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history.  

Under the terms of the decree, the EEOC provided claim forms to certain Sears employees who had been terminated under Sears’ workers’ compensation leave policy.  The claimants were asked to report to the EEOC, among other things, the extent of their impairments, their ability to return to work at Sears, and whether Sears had made any attempt to return them to work.  Based on these criteria, the EEOC found that 235 individuals were eligible to share in the settlement.  The average award was approximately $26,300.  More than twenty claimants were found to be ineligible by the EEOC.  As with all EEOC litigation, none of the settlement fund will retained by the EEOC; all of it will be distributed. 

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