Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sears Pays $6.2 Million for Disability Cases

235 Former Employees to Share Settlement Proceeds

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced court approval of the distribution of a $6,200,000 compensation fund in the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act litigation between the EEOC and Sears, Roebuck & Co.

In its lawsuit against Sears, the EEOC had alleged that Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the ADA.

The case resulted in the largest ADA settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history.

Under the terms of the decree, certain Sears employees who had been terminated under Sears’ workers’ compensation leave policy were asked to report to the EEOC the extent of their impairments, their ability to return to work at Sears, and whether Sears had made any attempt to return them to work.

Based on these criteria, the EEOC found that 235 individuals were eligible to share in the settlement.

The average award was approximately $26,300.

More than twenty claimants were found to be ineligible by the EEOC.

As with all EEOC litigation, none of the settlement fund will retained by the EEOC; all of it will be distributed.

EEOC Trial Attorney Aaron DeCamp noted that, in addition to the disbursement of settlement funds, the EEOC is seeing positive effects from the consent decree.

The EEOC litigation team included, EEOC attorneys John Hendrickson and DeCamp, Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Ethan Cohen, Deborah Hamilton and Laurie Elkin.

Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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