The largest disability discrimination settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history, Verizon Communications Corp. will pay $20 million to resolve a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to the EEOC suit, Verizon denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of disabled employees and disciplined or fired them for absences directly related to their disabilities, the commission said Wednesday.
As part of the settlement, Verizon does not concede any violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and “agreed to settle this complaint with the EEOC solely because it is in the best interest of our company, our employees and our customers to avoid the disruption, delay and expense of protracted litigation,” Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni said in a written statement.
In response, the EEOC said that Verizon did, in fact, violate the ADA when it refused to make exceptions to accommodate employees with disabilities.
“Flexibility on leave can enable a worker with a disability to remain employed and productive -- a win for the worker, the employer and the economy,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien in a written statement. “By contrast, an inflexible leave policy may deny workers with disabilities a reasonable accommodation to which they’re entitled by law – with devastating effects.”
The settlement involves employees for Verizon’s traditional land-line phone service and should not affect any wireless workers or customers, Varettoni said.