In a recent news release from the EEOC, a national retail establishment was found at fault for not accommodating a longtime employee who had Down syndrome. The issue revolved around a change in the employee’s work schedule. The EEOC presented evidence that this caused “significant difficulty” to the employee and stated that when the employee requested to return to the prior works schedule, this resulted in their termination. The retailer also subsequently turned down a request to be rehired. It is important to note that the employee had been with the company for approximately 16 years, receiving positive performance appraisals during the period of employment.
The EEOC had alleged that the retailer’s conduct violated the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibiting discrimination based on an employee’s disability. A jury found that the retailer failed to accommodate the employee and that the organization turned down the employee’s later request for rehire because of the employee’s disability and their need to provide accommodation. The jury awarded the employee $150,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000,000 in punitive damages.
Before turning down a request for accommodation, ensure you are communicating with your in-house Human Resources specialists and attorneys. If you don’t have in-house specialists, consider using an external HR Consultant. The small cost associated with securing a specialist who can analyze your situation and provide advice can save you the cost of a large payout to a claimant and associated fees for defending a case.
If you have questions about how Southwestern HR Consulting Services can help, contact us today at SWHRC.com.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP