EEOC Sues Employers for Disability Discrimination

October 01, 2018

In recently filed unrelated lawsuits, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged two employers with disability discrimination for maintaining inflexible and 100-percent healed leave policies. Before denying a request for leave as an accommodation of a disability and disciplining for absences related to a disability, we recommend all employers contact SESCO to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Oceanic Time Warner Cable / Spectrum. When it denied leave as an accommodation to a class of customer service representatives at its headquarters in Mililani, Hawaii, Oceanic Time Warner Cable LLC, doing business as Spectrum, violated the ADA, the EEOC has charged in a lawsuit. The EEOC alleged that Spectrum maintained inflexible leave and attendance policies that did not allow additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. Specifically, upon the exhaustion of FMLA leave, Spectrum failed to engage in the interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations could be provided, and simply notified employees that if they could not return to full duty, they would be discharged. Spectrum also allegedly denied reasonable accommodations to probationary employees because its policy only allowed for two unpaid absences during the six-month probationary period. For employees who exhausted their earned sick hours and two unpaid absences, the company did not engage in the interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations could be provided, and instead terminated their employment.

Corizon Health. Nationwide health care companies Corizon Health Inc, and Corizon LLC violated the ADA by discriminating against employees with disabilities through the application of a 100 percent return-to-work policy, according to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC. Corizon provides health care services to jail and prison inmates in 518 correctional facilities across 26 states, including Arizona. The EEOC charged that Corizon refused to accommodate employees with disabilities who exhausted their leave under Corizon's 30-day medical leave policy or the FMLA by failing to consider accommodations, including but not limited to alternative placements, additional unpaid leave, and modified work schedules, and instead required employees with disabilities to be 100 percent healed or to be without any medical restrictions before they were allowed to return to work.