N.C. employers face greater risk of punitive damages — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

N.C. employers face greater risk of punitive damages

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In a pair of surprising decisions, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld large punitive damages awards against employers that juries said violated the ADA. The 4th Circuit has jurisdiction over North Carolina employers.

The cases are significant because the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has long been considered the most conservative court in the nation—and a safe haven for employers.

Failure to accommodate

In the first case, the EEOC intervened on behalf of Ronald Lockhart, a deaf man working at FedEx’s facility at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Lockhart’s first language is American Sign Language, and he requested an interpreter for training meetings. The company did not provide one.

Some meetings acquainted workers with daily changes, while others provided long-term training. Lockhart felt he was missing important information. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, FedEx implemented numerous new...(register to read more)

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