Large corporations usually have training programs in place to help mitigate their risk against disability discrimination; yet, the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. Why? Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cashier with cancer at its Towson, Md., store and then firing her because of her condition.
The EEOC said that the cashier, who consistently received favorable performance evaluations during her 13-year tenure with Home Depot, requested unpaid leave for surgery to remove a tumor. EEOC contended that Home Depot initially accommodated her disability by granting her unpaid leave, but then advised her that she would be terminated if she did not advise the company of her status. EEOC charged that even though Henderson promptly sent medical documentation confirming when she would be medically released to return to work in October 2010, the retailer did not respond to her medical notes and instead fired her. Home Depot told Henderson she was being let go due to a lack of work, but EEOC claimed that was but a subterfuge for disability discrimination. Before, when there had been a seasonal lack of work, Henderson had been temporarily laid off as opposed to permanently terminated. Further, the company hired two cashiers at the Towson store after Henderson submitted medical documentation that she would soon be able to return to work. Additional cashiers were hired at nearby locations.
It is a violation of the ADA to fire someone on the basis of a disability. The ADA also requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation unless the employer can show it would be an undue hardship.
In addition to the monetary relief to the employee, what other actions do you think EEOC included in the consent decree with Home Depot?
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