Dillard’s can no longer require employees to provide a diagnosis from a doctor after taking sick time off of work. Doing so is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has resulted in a $2 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
At least 75 employees or former employees of the Dillard’s store in El Centro, California, triggered the EEOC investigation into employment discrimination claims at the retailer.
The department store chain, with about 300 stores across the United States, denies any wrongdoing, claiming that the disclosure of medical information was necessary to prevent employees from misusing sick time. Dillard’s also asserts that the policy of requesting a diagnosis in order to approve sick time as an excused absence is no longer in place.
The EEOC however, maintains that an employer may not ask for particulars about an employees’ health unless they apply to his or her ability to complete job functions.
Several former Dillard’s employees reported being fired by the retailer for refusing to give details about their medical condition to a supervisor when taking sick leave. Others reported that they were wrongfully terminated after taking too many sick days which may also be protected under the ADA.
The retailer must establish a claims fund for anyone else who may have been affected by its discriminatory policies, according to the settlement. Individuals who may be eligible for compensation from the fund are those who worked for the Arkansas-based department store from August of 2005 to August of 2009.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Dillard’s to pay $2 million to settle discrimination suit,” December 18, 2012