The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Jewel-Osco Settles Discrimination Suit For $3.2M

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a federal lawsuit against Jewel-Osco, the parent company of Supervalu Inc., claiming the company discriminated against disabled workers. Jewel-Osco allegedly terminated employees who had disabilities towards the end of their medical leave, instead of rehiring and providing them with reasonable accommodations.

Take Rosemary Bednarek, a Jewel-Osco employee from Merrillville, Indiana. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, she injured her back in February 2004, from lifting boxes of chicken. The company hired her back after she received medical treatment, but did not accommodate to her doctor’s suggested weight lifting restriction of 20 pounds. As a result, Bednarek re-injured her back in May 2004 and was fired from the company a year later.

Jewel-Osco agreed to settle the case and pay $3.2 million to its employees. However, not every employee was included in the suit; some were too disabled to work or not eligible for the award for other reasons. Based on a consent decree signed by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, most of those in the suit will be offered an average award of $29,000.

The EEOC reported nearly 1,000 Jewel-Osco workers in the Chicago area had been fired since 2003. EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien stated the settlement highlighted the agency's "commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]" and ensured "that all workers receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace."

If you have been discriminated against in the workplace, get in touch with a Chicago employment attorney who can determine the legal remedies available for your claim and make you sure your rights are protected. For general information on employment discrimination, visit the Related Resources links.

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