Toys”R”Us to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law on November 7th, 2013

Toys”R”Us Will Pay $35,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Toys”R”Us, Inc., one of the world’s largest retailers of toys and juvenile products, will pay $35,000 as well as provide significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit according to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Allegedly, according to the EEOC’s suit, after Shakirra Thomas applied for a team member position at the retailer, Toys”R”Us contacted her and requested she attend a group interview. Thomas’s mother told Toys”R”Us that Thomas was deaf and communicates through American Sign Language, reading lips and through written word, and thus required an interpreter for the interview. The retailer responded that Thomas would have to provide her own interpreter.

Thomas’s mother interpreted for her during the interview. According to the lawsuit the retailer refused to hire Thomas, despite her qualifications and ability to perform the team member position, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Disability Discrimination by Employers Violates Americans with Disabilities Act

Disability discrimination in employment violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act ensures that employers provide reasonable accommodations where necessary to individuals with disabilities, including its applicants.

“This settlement should remind all employers that, absent an undue hardship, the ADA requires providing a reasonable accommodation to job applicants and employees who request one,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.  “Hiring decisions should be made based on an individual’s qualifications and not because of a disability.”

In addition to $35,000 in monetary relief awarded to Thomas, the three-year stipulated judgment admonishes Toys”R”Us from future discrimination on the basis of disability.  Toys”R”Us will provide training to managers and supervisors regarding the ADA, which includes non-discriminatory interviewing and hiring practices. The retailer must also post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “We are pleased that Toys”R”Us worked with us to resolve this lawsuit.  This settlement, including the extensive training provisions, should protect applicants and employees from disability discrimination.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation

“Ban the Box” Laws Allows Ex-Offenders to Get Jobs

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 5th, 2013

“Ban the Box” Laws Will Remove “Convicted of Felony” Question From Job Applications

A growing number of states now prohibit public agencies – and in some cases private employers – from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until they reach the interview stage or get a conditional job offer.

Essentially that means removing the check-box questions commonly found on applications that ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Obstacles such as these that make it more difficult for ex-offenders to obtain jobs, housing and even basic documents like drivers’ licenses only serve to drive them back to jail.

These “ban the box” laws are intended to allow ex-offenders to prove they are qualified for the job before criminal history issues enter into the hiring decision.

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, one of the nation’s largest employer, has announced it will remove questions about criminal history from its job applications throughout the country.

California’s “Ban The Box” Laws Take Effect on July 1, 2014

This comes on the heels of a similar development in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “ban-the-box bill” that applies to government employers. Once the law takes effect on July 1, 2014, employers will have to determine a job applicant’s minimum qualifications before they ask about a job candidate’s criminal past. Applications and initial interviews for jobs, such as police officers, that by law require a conviction background check, are exempt.

Last year the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded and updated a 25-year-old ruling barring employers from automatically denying people jobs because of arrest or conviction records.

In the guidance the E.E.O.C. gave it was made clear that an arrest alone is not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from employment. It also outlined that employers need to take into account the seriousness of the offense, as well as the time that has lapsed since the crime was committed and the relevance of the crime to the specific job sought.

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation

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