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ADA@30: ADA Mediated Resolutions Narratives


  1. In one mediated charge, EEOC reached a settlement with a call center which hired a woman as a service representative. A few weeks after beginning work, she requested an accommodation for a one-hour lunch instead of two 30-minute breaks due to an eating disorder. She felt her employer failed to address the request in a timely manner, which resulted in further deterioration of her health that lead to her resignation. She was able to regain employment in the same position because her employer granted the continuous hour lunch break. This remedy was unlikely to occur outside of mediation as both sides had become deeply entrenched in their positions. She believed her employer took too long to respond to her accommodation request (about 2-3 weeks), while the employer felt it had engaged in the interactive process and was attempting to assess her request at the time of her resignation. In fact, the company notified her four days after she resigned that her request was approved. The mediation process allowed both sides to share their perspectives and understand the circum­stances underlying the previous communications, resulting in an agreement.
  2. Another charge involved an individual with HIV who worked in an emergency room as an office assistant that alleged retaliation and denial of a reasonable accommodation by his employer, a medical center. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1989, hired by his employer in 2006, and informed his employer that he was HIV-positive in 2015 as part of his accommodation request. His requested accommodation was based upon his doctor’s recommendations that he be removed from stress and contact with sick patients. He also indicated a willingness to take a demotion to be transferred to another department. He resigned his position after his employer denied his reasonable accommodation request. His employer in­formed him that there was no position available for him, further noting in his file that the employer would not refer him to any other department. The charge was successfully resolved, as the medical center rehired him to an office assistant position in the referral center, a position that accommodated his restrictions of limited patient contact and working the day shift, along with full back pay and front pay, pain and suffering damages, recovery of medical and retirement contributions, and no break in service, allowing him to maintain his job seniority.
  3. In one charge, a supermarket employed a woman as a bagger and greeter.  The employee had multiple disabilities and used a walker. The supermarket placed her on an indefinite leave because it believed it could not accommodate her restrictions. The dispute arose after the supermarket hired a new store manager. The employee was able to bag groceries when assigned to non-rush hours. She managed to successfully perform her duties until the new manager required her to move shopping carts outside of the store as an added job requirement. She did not use a walker when she was first hired, but her health condition worsened during the new manager’s tenure. Through mediation, the parties agreed that she would return to work in her prior position with the accommodation of eliminating the job duty of moving shopping carts outside the store.
  4. Another charge involved a woman with a significant back impairment who worked as an instructional assistant for a secondary school. The employer placed her on unpaid leave because it was not willing to provide her with requested accommodations. The school had employed her for four years prior to her placement in an unpaid leave status. She requested an accommodation of a 15-pound lifting restriction and “no prolonged sitting or standing.” During the mediation process, the parties discussed all possible options, including the school suggesting a new position. This resulted in her return to work as a secondary school resource aide, a position in which the school could fully accommodate her.
  5. In another charge, a woman, a 61-year-old secretary working in a school office, alleged that her employer denied her a promotion because of her disability (depression). She had applied for a different position after having been employed there since 2005. Her employer denied her discrimination claim, noting that other qualified candidates on the promotion list were also not selected. During mediation, the parties constructively discussed the matter, resulting in her selection as a part-time teacher secretary. 
  6. In one charge, a woman working as a cook alleged that her employer, a food services contractor, terminated her because of reduced performance and attendance issues due to her disability, a job-related brain injury. She had been employed in the position since 2015 with a prior contractor and then continued in the position when her employer secured the current contract. The employer asserted that the dismissal was due to job-related performance issues, which she conceded had occurred.  After lengthy mediation discussions, her employer agreed to re-employ her in a new position as a head counter, a job that allowed her to perform her duties while sitting to mitigate the fatigue associated with her condition, and further agreed to pay her back rent to bring her current on her lease and prevent an eviction – an unlikely remedy outside of mediation.
  7. Another charge involved a man with a hearing impairment and who wore hearing aids applied for a position as a signal trainee with a trans­portation company. Upon successful completion of training, he would become a signal maintainer. The company gave him a conditional offer of employment pending a physical ability test and medical exam. The transportation company’s doctor examined him and informed him he had to retake the exam with new hearing aids. He purchased new hearing aids and took and passed a second hearing test but was told that the company had disqualified him due to his disability without further specific information. The mediation resulted in his hiring as a signal trainee after successfully completing required training, thereby reversing the hiring official’s previous disqualification.
  8. In one mediation, an auto dealership terminated an automobile painter with macular degeneration due to safety concerns related to his increasing loss of vision. He had worked for his current employer from 2012 until firing him in 2015. The successful mediation resulted with the respondent agreeing to accommodate the man by employing him in a newly created customer service phone center.
  9. In one matter, a local governmental agency hired a man with a congenital limb defect, which resulted in a shorter arm, as a recep­tionist to answer the phone. His employer attempted to expand his duties to include typing, but his disability limited him from performing this duty with existing equipment. He remained employed while the matter was pro­cessed through mediation. The EEOC staff mediator consulted the Job Accom­modation Network (JAN), which suggested the integration of a $350 voice-activated computer program. The employer agreed to provide the device as a reasonable accommodation to resolve the dispute.
  10. In another charge, a woman who is deaf applied and interviewed for a job as a stocker with a retailer. She completed all pre-employment screenings, but the company did not hire her. The woman alleged discrimination based upon her disability. During the mediation, her limitations were examined in order to identify circumstances that may require additional assistance. The session resulted in her being hired for a different position as a general warehouse associate. Additionally, the employer agreed to pay for all costs asso­ciated with providing an ASL interpreter for an initial two-week training period, all quarterly employee meetings, and any formal performance tracking meetings or other meetings involving formal disciplinary action. The employer also allowed her to access and use her cellphone for job-related communications while at work, which it generally did not permit with other employees.
  11. One charge involved a woman who worked as an administrative assistant for a health care provider suffered from anxiety and depression due to her child’s illness. She requested intermittent FMLA leave and a modified, flexible work schedule to attend to her child’s care and related medical appointments after performance issues were observed. Mediation provided an effective accommodation resulting in a non-competitive, permanent reassignment to another facility under her previous position title that provided flexibility, a modified four-day, 32-hour work week schedule that maintained full-time status and benefits, scheduled breaks to address her anxiety disorder, and a postponement of a required annual com­petency assessment.
  12. A man who worked as a jet mechanic for his employer, an airline company, alleged disability discrimination when his employer terminated him due to a lengthy leave of absence for an extended illness. Under company policy, an employee may be placed on extended medical leave for up to 5 years. If the employee has not returned to duty within that period, termination may occur with notice. The company failed to notify him of his termination for his extended illness status in 2016 (end of five-year period). Due to additional administrative errors the employee’s work status was never modified consistent with this policy so the employee believed he remained in a pending status. Additionally, the employee claimed that he made multiple efforts to return to work during the five-year period. Mediation resulted in the company providing him back pay, full reinstatement with an increased salary, a 401(k) plan, life insurance worth five times his salary, health and vision coverage, and unlimited flight benefits for him and his family.
  13. In another matter, a woman alleged disability discrimination due to her longstanding issues associated with anxiety and depression. The woman said her employer subjected her to a hostile work environment by supervisors, different treatment than her colleagues, including unjust reprimands for performance. She requested an accommodation for a schedule change, a transfer, and a modification to her appraisal. Her employer denied the requests for accommodation due to a misunderstanding concerning the scope of the modifications and issued further reprimands that further exacerbated her condition. Mediation resolved her two charges and resulted in her transferring to a different department with a different supervisor, maintaining 10 years of employment and seniority, receiving a modification for specific work hours, removing disci­plinary actions in her file, and receiving $5,000. This remedy was unlikely to occur outside of mediation.  Mediation provided a neutral forum for frank discussion that enabled the employer to review actions management had undertaken while gaining a better understanding of the complainant’s underlying condition and limitations.
  14. In another charge, a public school system dismissed a 54-year-old employee with epilepsy who was a bus driver and teacher assistant. The school system fired her after it became aware of her disability when she was not able to renew her driver’s license. While she was not able to perform the duties of bus driver, she was still able to perform the teacher assistant duties. Mediation resulted in her regaining employment in a full-time teacher assistant position at the school of her choice with a pay increase, back pay, and attorney’s fees. The mediation session reviewed and resolved a series of miscommunications between her and her employer concern­ing possible accommodations.
  15. Another charge involved a school teacher with visual impair­ments who alleged that her employer failed to accommodate her and sought to change her job duties due to the request. She is self-sufficient but was not able to read documents. During the mediation, she was able to suggest and demonstrate ways in which she could continue to perform the essential functions of her job, including by using an 18-inch tablet with a camera, a 24-inch closed circuit television magnifier (CCTV) for her classroom, and training materials provided in electronic format so that she could ,among other tasks, craft Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities. These accommodations would allow her to continue to serve the school and draw upon her accumulated experience and knowledge. The total cost of the equipment was less than $5,000. The accommodations permitted her to continue being a classroom teacher and working with parents and the school to assist in developing IEP plans.
  16. In another charge, a building maintenance and services com­pany discharged a 75-year-old janitor with orthopedic disabilities from his position of 20 years. The company fired him after he informed the employer of his need to take two months leave for emergency knee replacement surgery. Mediation resulted in him regaining employment and returning to his previous position along with a monetary settlement. The employer also recognized that it could have accommodated his emergency absence from a large roster of other available employees.