THE CATO CORPORATION PAYS $3.5 MILLION TO SETTLE PREGNANCY / ADA DISCRIMINATION ACTION
Pregnant Employees and Those With Disabilities Were Denied Reasonable Accommodations And Discharged
The Cato Corporation, a leading retailer of women’s fashion and accessories, has agreed to pay $3.5 million to resolve a nationwide, systemic investigation conducted jointly out of the Chicago and Philadelphia Offices of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The Cato Corporation, based in Charlotte, N.C., has also agreed to update its reasonable accommodation policies to ensure there is no discrimination against pregnant employees or those with disabilities.
The EEOC’s investigation found that The Cato Corporation denied reasonable accommodations to certain pregnant employees or those with disabilities, made certain employees take unpaid leaves of absence, and/or terminated them because of their disabilities.
Failing to accommodate pregnant women with restrictions and limitations violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Denying employees with disabilities job modifications, leaves of absence or returns to work as reasonable accommodations violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The agreement between EEOC and The Cato Corporation provides for a claims process to distribute the $3.5 million to Cato employees who were terminated due to their pregnancy or disabilities. The Cato Corporation has also agreed to revise its employment policies to more fully consider whether medical restrictions of its pregnant employees or those with disabilities can be reasonably accommodated. The Cato Corporation will also conduct company wide training for over 10,000 of its employees and report to the EEOC periodically for three years on its responses to requests for reasonable accommodation by pregnant employees or those with disabilities.
“Giving employees a job modification that allows them to continue working can be a critical reasonable accommodation for pregnant women or people with disabilities when they really need that paycheck,” said EEOC Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman.
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