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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Dillard’s Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with EEOC

January 17th, 2013

Dillard’s, a national chain of clothing and beauty retailers, recently settled a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The company is required to pay $2 million to identified discrimination victims and establish a class settlement fund for unidentified victims, all of whom were fired between 2005 and 2009 for refusing to disclose confidential medical information and/or taking more than the maximum allowed sick leave.

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer denies a qualified applicant or employee the protections mandated by local, state, and federal laws.  An employer must provide reasonable accommodation to any applicant or employee who is capable of performing the necessary functions of the job, regardless of what mental or physical determent they might have.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 guarantees the rights of disabled employees and applicants to a safe and accommodating workplace, and prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals in regards to hiring, firing, job training, advancement, or compensation.

Dillard’s Medical Leave Policies Violated ADA

Dillard’s employees nationwide were required to disclose confidential medical information in order to qualify for sick leave.  Under the ADA, employers can request a note from doctors to confirm the legitimacy of a medical leave claim.  Employees, however, are not required to disclose details of their conditions; as such details are protected by privacy laws.  Many of the Dillard’s employees involved in the suit were advised by their doctors not to disclose such details.  The ADA prohibits employers from attempting to elicit details about an applicant or employee’s disability, aside from those that pertain to specific job functions and business operations.

Furthermore, the EEOC argued that the maximum-leave policy for Dillard’s employees was in violation of the ADA.  Dillard’s failed to institute a medical leave policy that worked with employees to effectively determine the appropriate amount of leave time under the ADA; this policy allowed Dillard’s to dismiss numerous employees who were absent for more than the allotted time.  Some employees felt as though they were dismissed in retaliation for refusing to share their medical information with the company.

In addition to the $2 million awarded to Dillard’s discrimination victims, as part of the settlement the company is required to hire a consultant to revise their medical leave policies and ensure that they are not in violation of the ADA.  Dillard’s staff will undergo training to support these revised policies, and the company will be reviewed annually by the EEOC to track their progress in complying with the terms of the settlement.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers of Sidney L. Gold and Associates Advocate for Victims of Disability Discrimination

The EEOC is working diligently to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and enforce the standards set by the ADA.  Yet, there are many qualified applicants and employees who still experience employment  discrimination, even in nationwide brands such as Dillard’s.  If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination because of a disability or perceived disability, you may have the right to compensation and an employment lawyer can help.

The Philadelphia employment law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates has long advocated for the fair treatment of workers, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or disability.  If you have experienced disability discrimination, other workplace discrimination, sexual harassment or other employment-related issue, call us today to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced employment attorney.  We will review the evidence in your case and advise you on how to proceed to get the compensation you deserve. The employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates have offices in Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvaniaand New Jersey.  Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online.

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