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Lowe's settles in disability discrimination action

An inflexible employer could create serious difficulties for a California employee with a disability. However, a major case involving Lowe's may provide encouragement to others dealing with conflicts over leave needed to deal with their conditions or to care for family members suffering disabilities. The home improvement company has agreed to pay more than $8 million to settle a lawsuit that had been filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The disability discrimination case noted that the company failed to provide reasonable accommodations in cases of employees with disabilities who exceeded the allowed amount of leave. The settlement funds will be given to former employees affected by the company's action. Further, the company has agreed to improve policies, training, and monitoring of requests for reasonable accommodations.

An individual might find that an employer is unwilling to make a reasonable accommodation, especially if the company is very small. An employer meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, is subject to the law in making appropriate accommodations as long as they do not create an undue hardship. Good communication between an employee and employer could minimize the risk of ADA complaints or adverse employment actions. If a company demonstrates a pattern of violating the rights of employees with impairments, legal action might be pursued through the EEOC.

A negative work environment could result in an impaired employee being forced to quit. Although many companies have human resources departments to deal with personnel issues such as disability discrimination complaints, there are scenarios in which complaints can lead to further negative actions by supervisors. If a situation becomes unbearable, an employee might want to have legal assistance in seeking appropriate recourse.

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