Carney R. Shegerian, founder of Shegerian & Associates, a Santa Monica-based law firm specializing in employee rights, has issued a cautionary statement aimed at all US employees and employers in light of the current news coverage surrounding Dillard’s Inc., a national retail chain, being ordered to pay $2 million and commit to extensive, company-wide injunctive relief to settle a class action disability discrimination lawsuit.
It was announced recently that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found Dillard’s employee sick leave policies to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Dillard’s longstanding national policy requires all employees to disclose personal and confidential medical information in order to be approved for sick leave. The settlement also resolves claims that Dillard’s terminated a class of employees nationwide for taking sick leave beyond the maximum amount of time allowed.
“Employee discrimination comes in many forms,” warned Shegerian, “and the victims of this discrimination often are unaware that the abuse they are suffering is illegal – or in some cases, they are aware, but are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. Any discrimination of a person in his or her place of work due to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability is illegal. We applaud the EEOC for taking action on behalf of these employees and hope this sends a message nationwide to employers of all sizes. You can run your business how you like – as long as you don’t break the law! And it is against the law to discriminate against employees for any reason.”
The EEOC originally filed its lawsuit in 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on behalf of Corina Scott, a former cosmetics counter employee at a Dillard’s store in El Centro, California, and others who were required to disclose the exact nature of their medical conditions to be approved for sick leave since 2005. While the class members had verifications from doctors to assure Dillard’s that the absences were due to medical reasons, many did not feel comfortable disclosing the specifics of their conditions to the company. According to the EEOC, Scott – who was absent from work for a mere four days – and others were then fired in retaliation for their refusal to provide details of their medical conditions, despite the fact that many of their own doctors advised them not to disclose specific medical information in accordance with the law.
An experienced trial attorney, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He remains undefeated in federal jury trials and has won over 60 jury trials, including 23 seven figure verdicts representing employees.