Verizon Communications Inc. will pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit over unlawful policies for disabled workers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in resolving its largest discrimination case, Bloomberg News reports.
This is great news for those protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which aims to afford all Americans the same rights, regardless of physical or mental setbacks.
Unfortunately, there are still many claims of discrimination in New York and elsewhere throughout the country. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 99,922 charges of workplace discrimination in 2010, which was up about 7.1 percent from 2009. Of those, 25,156, or 25.2 percent, were related to discrimination based on disability.
In the Verizon case, the New-York based telecommunications company fired or disciplined 24 employees when they needed more time off than allowed by the company’s leave policies. The company refused to make exceptions for disabled workers who needed “reasonable accommodations” in order to work, according to a statement released by the commission.
“Hopefully this nationwide decree will further public awareness of the importance of engaging in an individualized interactive process to determine whether a disabled employee must be accommodated” under U.S. laws, P. David Lopez, the agency’s general counsel, said in the statement.
Employees should be aware that there are many forms of discrimination that can affect them, ranging from not being hired because of a non job skill related reason to not getting promotions based on skin color or other attributes.
A number of federal and state laws prohibit companies from discrimination in the workplace. While businesses have some leeway in how they treat employees — such as requiring certain dress, hair styles, etc., there are many things they can’t legally require you to do.
And your boss can’t deny you promotions, training opportunities, key assignments and other perks based on unlawful reasons, such as:
- National origin
- Race and color
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Familial status
- Military status
- Arrest/conviction record
- Status as a victim of domestic violence
- Predisposed genetic characteristics
New York has taken many steps to ensure its citizens have recourse if they encounter unfair treatment for any of these reasons.
And while the New York City Commission on Human Rights and other governmental agencies are paid to help those who face discrimination, the process can be long and drawn out and may not ensure the best results. It is best to first consult with an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated at work.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman handles employment and labor law in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.
Verizon Pays Record $20 Million to End U.S. Disability Case, by Stephanie Armour, Bloomberg
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