Dillard’s settles disability discrimination suit

A disability discrimination suit case between Dillard’s, a large department store, and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has recently been settled. According to the EEOC, Dillard’s was breaking employment laws by requiring that employees disclose medical information in order to take sick days. If employees refused to cooperate, the EEOC claims that they faced retaliation.

The class-action suit started with a California employee who was absent from work for four days. Dillard’s apparently required her to disclose why she had been gone and she refused. The woman was then fired. Other employees have also made these claims.

Under employment laws, including the American Disabilities Act, unless questions are job related, employers cannot ask employees about their disabilities. In other words, employers can only ask about a disability to determine if a person can perform the essential duties of the job. Furthermore, employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of disability.

In the terms of the settlement, Dillard’s maintains that it did nothing wrong. However, according to the EEOC, a court ruled that Dillard’s policies were discriminatory. In the settlement, Dillard’s has agreed to pay $2 million to the identified victims of the policy. In addition, Dillard’s will create a class fund for other victims who have yet to be identified.

Disabled employees deserve the protections given to them under the ADA. When employers choose to discriminate, they can be held liable. These disability rules do not only apply to large retailers, but they apply to all employers with more than 15 employees. If an employee qualifies for ADA protection and has faced discrimination or retaliation because of a disability, then that employee may be entitled to compensation.

Source: Amarillo Globe-News, “Dillard’s to pay $2 million, start fund in sick-leave suit,” Karen Smith Welch, Dec. 20, 2012

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