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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity      U S WEST Communications  Commission                            1801 California Street, Suite 5100 310 West Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800   Denver, CO 80202 Milwaukee, WI 53203-3146  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  EEOC Contact:  Chester Bailey November 24, 1997                                     Director                                                       (414) 297-1265                                                 FAX:  (414) 297-3146                                                 TTY:  (414) 297-1115                                         U S WEST Contact:  Jerry Brown                                                           (303) 965-2689                                                     FAX:  (303) 896-1818 


MILWAUKEE -- Highlighting the success of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new mediation program, the EEOC and U S WEST Communications today announced a settlement agreement involving the innovative new mediation process and a third-party mediator to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of a disability discrimination claim dating back to 1993 that affected 27 people.

Gilbert F. Casellas, Chairman of the EEOC, praised the settlement and the role of mediation as an alternative to protracted litigation. "Mediation has and will continue to be an effective enforcement tool available to parties engaged in disputes before the Commission," Casellas said. "This resolution represents the kind of success that the agency's mediation program was designed to foster. We commend US West for its participation and hope that its example will point the way for other employers."

Further praise came from Chester V. Bailey, head of the EEOC office in Milwaukee that handled settlement negotiations. "I'm proud that the EEOC and one of the nation's larger employers were able to resolve a highly contentious matter in a fair and efficient manner that satisfied the needs of all parties concerned," he said.

The 27 individuals involved in the settlement had complained to the EEOC that a preplacement health-screening questionnaire formerly used by US WEST Communications violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring them to disclose medical conditions covered by the Act. The individuals maintained that the company then used this information to defer consideration of their applications. The EEOC had issued an administrative determination siding with the job applicants.

In the settlement, US WEST agreed to not reinstate use of the questionnaire, which the company has not used since 1996, to inquire whether job applicants have any active or acute medical conditions, or to defer applicants for a specified period of time. It further agreed that it will offer all 27 individuals an opportunity to be reconsidered for employment under a modified application process, to pay $950,000 to be allocated by the EEOC among the 27 individuals, and to augment its internal training programs and procedures to ensure compliance with the ADA. U S WEST will also hire an ADA compliance manager.

"US WEST Communications has always been at the forefront of employing individuals with disabilities, and we are happy to reaffirm our commitment to this important segment of society through this settlement," said Elizabeth Klovsky, Corporate Counsel for US WEST Communications. "We are also pleased with the EEOC's mediation program because it allows companies like us to work collaboratively with the government to resolve disputes prior to incurring the large costs in time and money associated with litigation."

US WEST Communications provides a full range of telecommunications services -- including wireline, wireless PCS and data networking -- to more than 25 million customers in 14 western and midwestern states. The company is one of two major groups that make up US WEST, a company in the connections business, helping customers share information, entertainment and communications services in local markets worldwide. US WEST's other major group, US WEST Media Group, is involved in domestic and international cable and telephone, wireless communications, and directory and information services.

The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for enforcing the federal statutes which prohibit employment discrimination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits job discrimination based on the existence or perception of a disability; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons age 40 and over; and the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits wage discrimination based on sex. The EEOC's Milwaukee District Office enforces the anti-discrimination laws in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This page was last modified on November 24, 1997.