United Road Towing, of Mokena, Illinois, is going to have to cough up a lot of dough after terminating employees that had taken medical leave. According to the EEOC's press release, URT will pay $380,000 to 13 employees that were discriminated against due to their disabilities. The settlement also requires other remedial measures, such as training for company employees.
We covered earlier developments in this case, including when URT alleged that the EEOC did not follow proper procedures before they filed their lawsuit. It was uncertain, after the court ruled in the EEOC's favor, whether the case would continue on appeal or settle. URT chose the latter, resulting in less legal fees but no shot at a Supreme Court showdown.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency that exists to protect workers against illegal discrimination on the basis of such things as age, disability, or gender. They are required, by law, to attempt to settle the matter before commencing litigation. However, if no agreement can be reached, EEOC attorneys file a lawsuit on behalf of the aggrieved employees.
In this case, the EEOC attempted to work out a settlement prior to filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and a suit was filed in a federal court in Illinois. It was only after litigation was commenced that a settlement was reached, resulting in a consent decree being filed with the court.
The consent decree, which is a judicially approved settlement agreement, requires the monetary payment, as well as other non-monetary remedies. URT will implement a "reasonable accommodations" policy. They will also train their management on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA requires that companies allow employees to take medical leave. URT complied with that part. However, the employer must also hold the person's job and make reasonable accommodations for the employee to account for the disability, unless doing so provides an undue hardship.
For example, a trucking company might need to shift a disabled employee to shorter truck routes or a different schedule.
According to the EEOC, instead of making an effort to accommodate the employees, URT simply fired them when they showed back up for work. Needless to say, that violated the anti-discrimination law.