Patricia Bonds, a client of Lebau & Neuworth, worked as a food clerk at Safeway's Westminster, Maryland, store when she sustained a work-related injury that substantially limited her ability to lift. Although Safeway initially accommodated Bonds' disability by reassigning her to work at the customer service desk, the store abruptly placed her on indefinite unpaid leave, claiming that she had exhausted her time limits for modified duty.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) subsequently charged that Safeway refused to observe its legal duty to provide a reasonable accommodation for Bonds and then unlawfully fired her because of her disability.
The EEOC then filed suit (EEOC v. Safeway Inc., Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-02955) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, on behalf of Bond after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules against disability discrimination and its requirement for employers to provide a reasonable accommodation, including reassignment to a vacant position, unless it would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer.
The EEOC obtained a very favorable result, gaining $27,000 in monetary relief and a three-year consent decree resolving the suit that requires Safeway to rehire Bonds with her continued seniority status and to provide her with a hand scanner or other reasonable accommodation to allow her to perform the food clerk job duties. Additionally, an EEOC press release also noted, “Safeway is enjoined from violating the ADA, including refusing to provide reasonable accommodations. Safeway will provide annual ADA training to all managers and supervisors at its Westminster store and to all members of its eastern division accommodations committee. The grocery store will also report to EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.”
If you have questions or concerns about being discriminated in the workplace, please contact Lebau & Neuworth at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.