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Dillard's settles with EEOC over health discrimination lawsuit

Texas residents are very familiar with Dillard's, a higher-end retailer that is heavily concentrated in the Lone Star State. The company gives off an air of class -- but, as it turns out, their employment practices behind the curtain are far less respectable than that appearance.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in 2008 against Dillard's for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and for committing health-related discrimination violations against their employees. The case was recently settled, with Dillard's agreeing to pay $2 million and enter extensive reviews of their company policies.

When an employee wants to take sick leave, there are certain policies that are allowed, and others that are not. Dillard's chose the latter, making employees who requested sick leave to give personal and medical information to the company. Dillard's would use this information to approve or deny the sick leave.

At the same time, Dillard's also had a history of firing employees who were out of the office longer than their allotted time. This is a direct violation of the ADA -- serious medical conditions don't always obey timelines. Sometimes the employee takes longer to recover; or there can be complicating factors that forces the employee out of work for a period. Dillard's responses to these circumstances (firing the employee) were completely out of line, and the EEOC held them responsible for it.

Employees that are put in these tough (and illegal) situations need to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Employers do not have free reign over you, and there are many rules and regulations they have to follow to ensure a safe and happy work environment.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Dillard's to pay $2M in health-discrimination suit," William Spain, Dec. 18, 2012

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