On July 5, 2011, the EEOC filed suit against Verizon and a number of its subsidiaries, claiming that Verizon’s no-fault attendance program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. More specifically, the EEOC challenged Verizon’s policies which provide for progressive discipline, up to and including termination, for all absences – including those absences caused by an employee’s ADA-covered disability.
On July 6, the parties resolved the case with a Consent Decree, pursuant to which Verizon agreed to pay $20MM to settle the EEOC’s claims. Verizon also agreed to revise its attendance and ADA policies, to explicitly provide exceptions to the no-fault attendance policy as reasonable accommodation for covered disabilities.
According to the EEOC’s press release, this Consent Decree represents the largest settlement of a single disability discrimination lawsuit in EEOC history. Following on the heels of the EEOC’s public hearing held to explore the use of leaves of absence as accommodation, which we blogged about here and here, and the effective date of its new regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008, this settlement illustrates the EEOC’s stepped up enforcement efforts under the Obama administration.