As employers should be aware, in March 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed final bipartisan regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA).
The new regulations are designed to simplify the determination of who has a “disability” and make it easier for people to establish that they are protected by the ADA.
For employers, this means greater exposure to disability lawsuits. In fact, the EEOC has already filed more than sixty lawsuits under the ADAA, underscoring its commitment to vigorous enforcement of the law. Below is a brief summary of several cases that lead to costly liability.
- Verizon Maryland, Inc., et al.: resolved 7/6/11 by Philadelphia District Office –Verizon Communications agreed to pay $20 million and to provide significant equitable relief to resolve a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit. The suit said the company unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and disciplined and/or discharged them pursuant to its “no fault” attendance policy. This lawsuit spanned over both the ADA and the ADAAA as the policy was in effect before the ADAAA became effective and continued thereafter.
- Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) and Alpha Rae Personnel: resolved 5/24/11 by Indianapolis District Office – The Commission alleged that Defendants, one a Xerox company and the other an employment agency, failed to accommodate Charging Party and terminated her work assignment with ACS and thus her employment with Alpha Rae, because of her vision and hearing disabilities caused by Fuchs’ Dystrophy and by tinnitus. ACS agreed to pay Charging Party $55,000 and both defendants agreed to significant equitable relief including taking action to track and respond appropriately to requests for accommodation.
- Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington: resolved 8/3/11 by Philadelphia District Office – The Commission alleged that Defendant, one of the largest metropolitan Jewish community centers in the country, failed to accommodate, demoted and discharged an assistant teacher because of her hearing impairment. The discharge occurred after the effective date of the ADAAA. Defendant agreed to pay $100,000 and provide injunctive relief to settle the case.
- Maxim Healthcare Services: resolved 9-22-11 by the Chicago District Office – The Commission alleged that Defendant failed to provide reasonable accommodates and ultimately discharged Charging Party, director of clinical services, because she had brain cancer. Defendant agreed to pay $160,000 to Charging Party’s estate as well as significant injunctive relief.
The Law Office of Beth Lincow Cole is committed to helping employers comply with federal and state employment law and avoid potential business-wrecking lawsuits. If your company needs guidance regarding disability accommodation, contact employment law attorney Beth Lincow Cole.