The EEOC recently settled a class action suit against Dillard’s Department store for disability discrimination for $2,000,000. Dillard’s had a practice of asking employees to disclose the exact nature of their medical conditions to be approved for sick leave, even where an employee provided verification from a doctor that confirmed a medical reason for the absence. The EEOC asserted that this policy violated the ADA because the ADA prohibits employers from making inquiries into the disabilities of its employees unless such inquiries are job related and necessary for the conduct of the employer’s business.
The EEOC also took issue with Dillard’s practice of automatically terminating employees who took more sick leave than allowed by Dillard’s policy because, in practice, the maximum-leave policy allowed Dillard’s to ignore its obligation to engage in the interactive process to determine if additional leave might be a reasonable accommodation of the employee’s disability.
NOTE: This settlement is the second time in recent months that the EEOC has indicated that maximum-leave policies violate the ADA, and that employers must, even when an employee has taken all leave provided by an employer’s policy, engage in the interactive process to determine if additional leave would be a reasonable accommodation for the employee.