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By Fred Dawkins and Betsy Turner
In early February, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finalized the largest single-lawsuit Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement in its history. Pursuant to that settlement, Sears will distribute $6.2 million to resolve the ADA claims of 235 former employees. In the suit, the EEOC alleged that Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy which violated the ADA. Under the Sears policy, an employee whose workers’ compensation leave lasted more than one year was automatically terminated without any consideration of whether a reasonable accommodation (such as additional leave) might have allowed that employee to return to work. In addition to paying approximately $26,300 to each of the former employees, Sears has to: (1) amend its workers’ compensation leave policy; (2) provide written reports to the EEOC detailing its ADA compliance practices; (3) train employees on ADA issues; and (4) post a notice of the settlement at all Sears locations.