EEOC’s $20 Million Settlement with Verizon Puts Focus on “No Fault” Attendance and Leave Policies

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In a press release last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Verizon Communications will pay $20 million and take other remedial measures to settle a class action disability discrimination lawsuit that the EEOC filed against the company. The consent decree between Verizon and the EEOC for settlement of the lawsuit, which is pending judicial approval, is the largest disability discrimination settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history.

The EEOC’s lawsuit claimed that Verizon unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and disciplined or fired them pursuant to the company’s “no fault” attendance policy. Under Verizon’s “no fault” policy, if an employee accumulated a certain number of “chargeable absences,” the company placed the employee in a disciplinary status that could eventually result in more serious discipline or termination. The EEOC contended that Verizon failed to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities by refusing to make exceptions to its “no fault” attendance policy for employees whose “chargeable absences” were caused by their disabilities and, in some cases, disciplining or terminating these employees.

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