Bank of America to Pay $110,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

EEOCBank of America will pay $110,000 to a former temporary worker and give other fair relief under a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC alleged that Bank of America failed to accommodate a visually impaired data entry worker and instead terminated his temporary assignment at one of the bank’s branches in downtown Chicago after one day on the job.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 by Congress and President George H. Bush with Senator Tom Harkin the bills chief sponsor. However, the U.S. Supreme Court severally restricted the ADA in a series of rulings. In 2008, the ADA was amended by Congress and President Barak Obama, after 8 years of sponsorship by former President George W. Bush.

The ADA as amended and the EEOC enforcement have an important role in securing human rights for US residents living with disabilities.

Canada has no similar law or enforcement agency. Canadians with disabilities must fend for themselves by launching human rights complaints in federal and provincial jurisdictions. The cost and legal complexity of the human rights complaint has resulted in few Canadians achieving work place accommodation for their disabilities. See Canada Failing People With Disabilities On UN Enable Day

Workplace accommodations

This can include making adjustments or changes in the workplace that enable an employee with a disability to do the essential functions of his job. For example, an employer may be required to offer screen magnifying software that would enable an employee with a visual impairment to do essential computer work.

Questions and answers about blindness, visual impairments and the ADA are available on the EEOC’s website.

EEOC-Seal

EEOC – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Bank of America, N.A., Civil Action No. 11-cv-6378, September 13, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur entered the decree resolving the suit December 18. In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree includes an injunction requiring the bank offer reasonable accommodations to temporary and contingent workers at its branches throughout Illinois, provides for training about the ADA’s requirements and imposes record keeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree.

Of the millions of working-age Americans with vision loss, research has shown that fewer than half are employed, An employer of the size and sophistication of Bank of America, which employs an enormous number of people working at computer terminals, ought to be a national leader in employing individuals with disabilities, including vision loss, and a leader in ADA compliance generally,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC Chicago district regional attorney.

John Hendrickson, EEOC Chicago

John Hendrickson, EEOC Chicago

We’re optimistic that this consent decree is going to prompt that kind of progress at Bank of America, not only because it’s the law, but also because it’s the right thing to do.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination including the Americans With Disabilities Act. Further information is available at ” href=”http://www.eeoc.gov/”>www.eeoc.gov.

With story from the EEOC.

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