The EEOC Settles With a Phoenix Company for ADA Violation

The EEOC announced today a settlement of an ADA failure to accommodate charge filed against ValleyLife that included a payment of $100,000, among other remedies.

The charge alleged that ValleyLife violated the ADA’s reasonable accommodation obligation by terminating employees automatically upon exhaustion of their paid time off and/or any unpaid leave period (such as FMLA). According to the EEOC, the employer should have engaged in an interactive process with the Charging Party to explore other accommodations (including additional time off) before considering termination.

Key Take-Aways From this Settlement

* Providing an employee with a medical leave of absence for the full time period required by company policy and/or applicable leave laws (such as FMLA) does not necessarily satisfy the employer’s reasonable accommodation obligation under the ADA

**  Each medical leave of absence scenario must be evaluated on an individualized basis to determine if accommodations exist to avoid termination

*** The interactive process MUST be documented in a carefully crafted communication to the employee in case the decision is later challenged