The giant telecommunications company, Verizon Communications, has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission that claimed the company discriminated against employees with disabilities. The EEOC said that Verizon’s attendance policy did not reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities.
In settling the lawsuit, Verizon did not admit to discriminatory employment practices, but it did agree to work with the EEOC in order to craft an employee attendance policy that does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to an article on the case by Lorraine Mirabella in The Baltimore Sun, the settlement amount was reportedly the largest ever in a single lawsuit filed by the EEOC. Damages will be paid to union workers who were punished or terminated for taking disability-related leave. The settlement covers workers for the traditional phone company, but not Verizon Wireless.
The EEOC filed the suit against the phone company because they had an attendance policy that did not make exceptions for employees taking time off work due to a disability. The company would add up points against employees when they took leave for any reason.
The EEOC said that exceptions should have been made for disabled workers that were taking leave due to disabilities so that adverse actions were not taken against them after they accumulated a certain amount of points. This would be punishing them for having a disability, which is in violation of the ADA. To be compliant with the ADA, businesses with 15 or more employees are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with disabilities.
Verizon to pay $20 million to settle discrimination suit (The Baltimore Sun)