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Sears Pays Largest ADA Settlement in EEOC History

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Workers’ compensation was at the center of debate with a lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck & Co, according to Occupational Health and Safety News. The lawsuit was filed by employment lawyers with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and alleged that Sears maintained an inflexible worker’s compensation leave exhaustion policy; which terminated employees when coming back from leave. This violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) because the employees were not provided with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.

The case now stands out as the largest ADA settlement case in EEOC history. Last month, EEOC announced the court’s approval of the distribution of a $6.2 million compensation fund to the former 235 employees that had been terminated from their positions. The average award for each claimant was approximately $26,300; a nice bit of cash.

The lawsuit was originally filed in November 2004 and assigned to Federal District Court Judge Wayne Anderson of the Northern District of Illinois. The state of Texas and city of Houston have a large number of Sears stores. The company has been of question on several labor issues in recent years. The New York Times reports that in 1999, the company was fined $325,000 for violating child labor laws.

Texas employment lawyers agree that it’s good news when workers receive fair compensation for injuries or unfair labor practices. In regards to the $6.2 million settlement, Occupational Health and Safety News reported EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru saying, “The EEOC is pleased and proud that we fought long and hard on this case to protect the rights of workers with disabilities, and that many Sears employees will now benefit from our law enforcement efforts.”

Related Resources:

  • EEOC Scores Disability Settlement With Sears (The Chicago Employment Law blog)
  • The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability (FindLaw)
  • Texas Employment Lawyers Directory (FindLaw)

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