Some Pennsylvania residents may be among the many workers the home improvement retailer Lowe's allegedly fired in violation of the American Disabilities Act. According to a lawsuit that has now been settled, the company failed to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers and fired some whose medical leaves of absences were longer than that permitted by company policy.
The lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lowe's has agreed to pay a total of $8.6 million to the terminated employees. The company will also better train its employees to deal with workers who have disabilities and put a system in place that tracks requests for accommodations. According to a general counsel for the EEOC, the hope was that a message would be sent to all employers that firing disabled employees when they reach a leave limit might be violating the ADA.
According to a spokesperson for Lowe's, in 2010, the company modified its policies regarding leaves of absence to better inform employees about their ADA rights. Furthermore, the company says that it has taken steps to ensure that its policies are applied more consistently.
Both employers and employees may sometimes misunderstand workers' rights when it comes to discrimination issues. For example, people may not understand what is meant by being in a "protected class," or they may not know what constitutes "reasonable accommodation." People who think they are being discriminated against in the workplace due to disabilities or for other reasons might want to speak to an attorney about their concerns so that they have a good understanding of those employee rights and how they should proceed including documenting the discrimination.
Source: Disability Scoop, "Lowe's Paying Millions to Settle Disability Discrimination Case," Shaun Heasley, May 13, 2016