Verizon Communications has agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit that claimed the employer violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that the company did not adequately accommodate employees with disabilities in its company attendance policy.
The attendance policy punished or terminated employees who took too much time off, but did not adequately allow for leave that was needed due to certain employees' disabilities. The EEOC said that the company should have accommodated disabled employees by making exceptions to its attendance policy for employees that were absent due to a disability. The EEOC said that making exceptions for disabled employees would be a "reasonable accommodation" under the ADA. The EEOC said that not properly accommodating disabled employees in its attendance policy constituted discrimination and a violation of the ADA.
The lawsuit was settled on Wednesday in Baltimore where it was filed. The settlement amount was the largest settlement amount ever for a single lawsuit in which the EEOC claimed an employer was in violation of the ADA, according to The Baltimore Sun. The settlement will compensate union workers in the traditional phone company who had absences from work due to disabilities.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the EEOC said that accommodating disabled employees in a leave policy is good for employees with disabilities and ultimately for the company and economy because it keeps people with disabilities productive and employed. Conversely, terminating disabled employees for taking disability-related leave is bad for disabled employees, a company and the economy. Verizon did not admit fault with the settlement, but agreed to work on its attendance policy to be in compliance with the ADA.
Verizon to pay $20 million to settle discrimination suit (The Baltimore Sun)