Jewel-Osco—the conglomerate that owns the Supervalu, American Drug Stores and Jewel Food Stores chains—has agreed to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging it violated the ADA when it terminated employees after their medical leaves of absence ended.
Last year, the EEOC charged Jewel-Osco with illegally firing more than 1,000 ADA-protected employees since 2003. Approximately 110 former employees will participate in the settlement. With each receiving approximately $29,000, the total tab will approach $3.2 million.
Under the consent decree that settled the case, Jewel-Osco will:
- Train supervisors about the ADA and reasonable accommodations
- Hire consultants to revise its job descriptions
- Report to the EEOC accommodations for workers returning from medical leaves of absence.
The company must tell employees that they do not have to be 100% healed to return to work, and that they have the right to explore reasonable accommodations that could allow them to work before they are completely healed.
Note: The ADA’s requirement to individually assess accommodations for each employee doesn’t mean disabled employees can’t pursue class actions. In fact, discriminatory policies invite class-action lawsuits. Make sure managers and supervisors know how to handle workers coming back from medical leaves of absence and have accommodation resources available.