Lowe's is a popular destination for California residents who like to tackle home maintenance and improvement jobs themselves. The North Carolina-based company has become one of the nation's most prominent retailers, but it has run into trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for its treatment of workers with disabilities.
The EEOC accused Lowe's of engaging in a pattern of discriminatory behavior towards disabled workers. The agency says that Lowe's routinely fired disabled workers when they took leaves of absence for medical reasons that went beyond the company's maximum allowed time off. The EEOC also accused Lowe's of not making accommodations for their disabled workers that are mandated by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a May 13 announcement, the EEOC reported that Lowe's had agreed to pay $8.6 million to settle the workplace discrimination claims. The money will go to workers who suffered financially due to the home improvement retailer's discriminatory policies. The agreement between Lowe's and the EEOC also calls for the retailer to bring in an ADA specialist to ensure that the company's hiring, training and disciplinary policies remain in compliance with the 1990 law. A Lowe's representative said that the company has already taken a number of steps, such as modifying its leave of absence policy in 2010, to comply with the provisions of the ADA.
This case illustrates how seriously illegal workplace discrimination is taken by federal authorities. Victims sometimes remain silent because they fear termination or some other form of retaliation, but it can lead to severe sanctions for employers. Experienced employment law attorneys may assess the merits of a potential discrimination claim and explain the steps involved in pursuing legal remedies.