The EEOC Claims Another Victory in Fight for Disabled Workers

On June 5th, Nevada Restaurant Services, a large Las Vegas-based gaming company that operates slot machines, taverns, and casinos, agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In the suit, the EEOC alleged that by requiring workers with disabilities or medical conditions to be “100% healed” before returning to work the Las Vegas gaming company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC argued that this behavior doesn’t adhere to the ADA’s interactive process, let alone its reasonable accommodation requirement.

Furthermore, the EEOC showed that Nevada Restaurant Services went as far as firing employees because it viewed them as disabled or, in some cases, were simply associated with someone with a disability.

The EEOC’s Fight Moves Onward

The June 5 settlement in the case of EEOC v. Nevada Restaurant Services Inc. serves as the most recent victory in the EEOC’s fight to target employer “maximum-leave” and “100-percent-healed” policies.

“Systemic disability discrimination is still all too prevalent,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Las Vegas in its jurisdiction. “Besides regularly examining established practices and ensuring that staff is adequately trained, employers must also ensure their decision makers follow through on that training by holding them accountable to complying with the ADA.”

On top of the $3.5 million payment towards the employees, Nevada Restaurant Services also agreed to retain an ADA consultant to assist the EEOC with verifying compliance.

Wendy Martin, local director of the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, reaffirmed their commitment towards eliminating discrimination saying, “The EEOC will continue its quest to identify and eradicate systemic disability discrimination.”

Takeaways for Your Organization

  • When working with employees with disabilities the ADA favors an “interactive process”, an informal discussion that assists employers and employees find a reasonable accommodation.
  • Employers are allowed to request documentation during this process and are not required to provide the employees preferred accommodation. Rather, employers may choose any reasonable and effective accommodation that meets the employee’s needs.
  • Employee accommodations can include a variety of solutions, from an altered work schedule to reassignment of marginal duties.
  • Review your written policies to confirm compliance. Evaluate all requests on a case-by-case basis. Stay engaged and document the interactive process.