Week In Review

September 28, 2015

Trucking company makes changes to end suit over 100% healed return-to-work policy
An Arizona trucking company has agreed to pay $300,000 and make changes to its return to work policy to end a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The employer maintained a policy requiring employees to return to work with no medical restrictions after leave. Based on the policy, the employer denied requests for unpaid leave beyond 12 weeks and denied transfers into open positions for which disabled employees were qualified. Specifically, the employer discriminated against an employee who for nearly 8 years worked as a payroll and billing clerk due to her disability. The employee had a rare eye disease that substantially limited her eyesight and she needed multiple corrective surgeries. She took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Before the employee's FMLA leave expired, the employer wrote the employee a letter informing her that if her doctor did not release her to "full, unrestricted duty" by the time her FMLA leave expired, her employment and benefits would be terminated. The employee requested additional time to recover, but the employer denied her requests, refused to explore possible accommodations, and fired her on the day her FMLA leave expired. Employers violate the law when they have blanket policies requiring disabled employees not to return to work until they are 100% healed. Under the ADA, employers must conduct individualized assessments to explore reasonable accommodations that may allow disabled employees to return to work. Employers have an obligation beyond the FMLA to provide unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation, unless to do so would result in an undue hardship to the employer.

EEO-1 filing deadline extended to October 30
The EEOC has extended the deadline for EEO-1 Report submissions from September 30 to October 30, 2015. The EEO-1 Report is an annual survey that must be filled out by all private employers with 100 or more employees, and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more. The preferred method for completing the EEO-1 Report is the web-based online filing system. Several changes were implemented in 2015: (1) employers are now able to obtain and reset their passwords; (2) company locations with same address and same NAICS code must consolidate those locations into one record; and (3) the requirement to provide the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for each establishment location will be more carefully monitored.

SESCO recommends that clients review all applicable policy and practices to ensure compliance. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com