It is common knowledge that employers are prohibited from exhibiting discriminatory behavior towards employees due to a disability. However, the enforced federal, state, and local laws condemning such behavior in the workplace have unfortunately not prevented certain companies and organizations from treating workers with physical and mental disabilities unfairly.
The Illinois Human Rights Act outrights denounces such behavior, and serves as protection for people with disabilities who are active in the workforce. And in an effort to deter this behavior on a statewide level, the state permits legal action to be taken against any person, employer or entity that has subjected disabled employees to discrimination.
Dozens of workers employed by UPS made the brave decision to exercise their constitutional rights by suing the massive shipping giant for discrimination. The lawsuit, handled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleges that the company's maximum leave policy was so inflexible that it unfairly positioned disabled workers. The policy dictated that once employees reached 12 months of leave, they would be fired, regardless of the reasonable accommodations that are entitled to disabled workers by federal law. As a result, a disproportionate amount of disabled workers have been fired by UPS throughout the years.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, as the policy has affected a large number of employees and former employees in the Chicago area.
The lawsuit stemmed from charges filed by Trudi Momsen, an Illinois woman who has multiple sclerosis. Momsen was an administrative assistance in UPS' payroll department. She took a leave due to medical reasons for 12 months, and when she returned, she needed to use a cane to walk. She claims the company denied making accommodations for her, and refused to grant her additional time off for more therapeutic treatment. Shortly after the denials, she was fired from UPS after dedicating 17 years to the company.
Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's Chicago District director, made a statement about how the statement basically singles out disabled employees.
“Such a policy must also include flexibility to work with employees with disabilities who may simply require a reasonable accommodation to return to work,” Bowman said.
After receiving word of the lawsuit, UPS agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to nearly 90 current and former employees. In addition to the payout, UPS has agreed to update its policies regarding reasonable accommodation, improve its implementation of these policies, and provide updated reports on the status of every accommodation request for the next three years.
Illinois Workplace Discrimination Attorneys
If you have been subjected to workplace discrimination, you should immediately consult with an attorney. A skilled legal professional can help you hold an individual, employer or entity responsible for their actions and help you receive the legal remedy you deserve. The attorneys at Benassi & Benassi have years of experience successfully representing people who have been in your shoes. Contact them today for a free consultation.