American Airlines, Envoy Air Pay $9.8M to End Suit Over Leave Policy

November 27, 2017

American Airlines and Envoy Air have agreed to pay $9.8 million dollars to settle a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit asserting that the airlines violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). American and Envoy required employees to have no restrictions before they could return to work following a medical leave. Under this policy, if employees had restrictions, the airlines refused to let them return to work and failed to determine if there were reasonable accommodations that would permit the employee to return to work with restrictions.

The two-year consent decree resolves the EEOC’s lawsuit and several discrimination charges. The systemic investigation was conducted by the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. In addition to the stock, American and Envoy are enjoined from engaging in future discrimination or retaliation based on disability, required to adopt policies that ensure reasonable accommodations are provided to persons with disabilities, and must provide periodic training on the ADA to employees. The settlement applies to all American and Envoy employees throughout the country.

"This matter highlights the critical role of the Americans with Disabilities Act in getting people back to work as quickly as possible," said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. "The parties deserve credit for working diligently to bring this matter to resolution."

"This settlement demonstrates the need for employers to have good ADA policies," added EEOC District Director Elizabeth Cadle. "That means policies which consider employers’ obligations to provide reassignment without competition as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities who become unable to do their current job even with accommodations."

The EEOC filed its lawsuit, case number 17-cv-04059-SPL, in the District of Arizona.