Nationwide retailer Dillard’s recently settled an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by workers who say the department store forced them to provide detailed medical information in order to use their sick days. The class action suit lasted for four years and was lead largely by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC says that the company forced employees to provide documentation about their specific medical conditions, going beyond a simple requirement that they have a doctor’s note confirming that they were being treated at all.
The department store has 300 locations in 29 states, meaning that thousands of employees were potentially affected by the policy. According to the EEOC, the forced disclosure of medical information was common throughout the company’s stores and affected current and past employees.
The company says that confirming that employees were actually ill when taking sick days was a necessity and did not violation the Americans with Disabilities Act or violate the privacy of employees. In a statement issued following the settlement, the company said that they chose to settle in order to end the litigation and that they maintained that the policy does not result in discrimination.
The EEOC says that employees reported having to report mental illness, cancer status, and other incredibly personal information to managers. A spokesperson said that managers were harassing people about their medical conditions under the policy.
Minnesota employees should know that it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of a medical condition. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects workers from this type of conduct and workers who have their rights violated can seek a variety of remedies.
Source: Associated Press, “Dillard’s pays $2M to settle discrimination claims,” Sam Hananel, Dec. 18, 2012.