Inflexible Leave Policy Leads to $2 Million Settlement in Disability Bias Case

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

February 24, 2020

A rigid, 100%-healed policy has landed a pair of West Coast assisted living companies in trouble, leading them to pay $2 million to resolve an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Prestige Care, Inc., Prestige Senior Living and their affiliates required employees to perform 100% of their job duties without restriction, accommodation or engaging in the interactive process. If employees were not fully fit to return to work after an illness or injury, the companies allegedly would terminate them instead of offering them time to recover.

"One of the EEOC's national priorities is eliminating qualification standards and inflexible leave policies that discriminate against people with disabilities," the director of the EEOC's Fresno, California, office, Melissa Barrios, said of the settlement. "This resolution should send a strong message to employers."

The settlement covers any Prestige employees who believe they may have been terminated or excluded from employment because of a mental or physical impairment. It includes a five-year consent decree aimed at preventing future discrimination, under which the companies will retain an equal employment opportunity monitor to review their ADA compliance policies and ensure they engage in the interactive process.

The Prestige facilities covered by the settlement include locations in California, Oregon and Washington.