Responsiveness to an employee’s complaint about workplace concerns not only enables the employer to gather the best information, it also provides the employer with the opportunity to resolve internal problems before they become widespread. Given every complaint could turn into litigation, a well-planned and documented investigation can be an employer’s best defense. While each situation is unique, the following is a checklist of steps an employer should take as soon as a complaint is received: obtain a written statement; ensure confidentiality, non-retaliation, and explain next steps; gather tangible evidence; timing; interview witnesses; interview the accused; make a decision; investigation closure; and written investigation summary.
Dolgencorp, LLC, will pay $70,000 and provide other relief to settle charges that the owner-operator of a Georgia Dollar General violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to consider an applicant with an injured arm. Dolgencorp is a Kentucky corporation operating more than 12,000 Dollar General retail stores across the country. In September 2015, the applicant sought a sales associate position at a Portal, Georgia, Dollar General store, where she was a frequent shopper. When she appeared for an interview, the store manager allegedly refused to interview her, stating, "I didn't know it was you," and told her that she could not work at Dollar General "with that arm." The applicant’s left arm had been injured in an automobile accident two years earlier. "Employers cannot make presumptions about a prospective employee's ability to work," said Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Regional Attorney Antonette Sewell. "Employers ... must understand their obligations under the law to eliminate stereotypes from the hiring process."
Walmart Inc. will pay $80,000 and implement nationwide changes to its same-store disability reassignment policy to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to reassign a long- term employee at its Augusta, Maine, location to vacant positions in its Waterville or Thomaston, Maine, locations after she became disabled. The lawsuit alleged that the employee developed a disability that, according to Walmart, prevented her from continuing to work in a sales associate position in Augusta. Walmart determined that the only positions that could accommodate her disability were fitting room associate and people greeter. While there were no such positions vacant in Augusta, there were two fitting room associate positions open in Waterville and one in Thomaston. Walmart's policy, however, was to search for open positions only in the store where the employee had been working. Because of this, Walmart did not transfer the employee to the positions in Waterville or Thomaston. In prohibiting employers from discriminating based on disability, the ADA imposes a requirement that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship on the employer: One of these accommodations is reassignment to a vacant position.
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