BMO Harris Bank, one of the largest banks in the Midwest serving personal, commercial and affluent customers will pay $400,000 to 14 former employees under a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination case brought by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Case: EEOC v. Harris Bank, Civil Action No. 12-cv -7793

According to the EEOC,  BMO Harris Bank unlawfully terminated disabled employees at the end of their medical leave of absence rather than offering accommodations which would have allowed them to return to work.  EEOC further alleged that the bank failed to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees so that they can enjoy the same employment opportunities as their non-disabled counterparts.

U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber entered the decree ending the suit, which provides $400,000 in monetary relief to the victims. Additionally, the decree includes an injunction against disability discrimination and retaliation, and imposes record keeping and reporting responsibilities on the bank for the term of the decree. The bank will also change its workplace accommodation policy to allow job transfers as accommodations if employees are unable to return to work at their jobs because of a disability.

“Now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has made clear that arranging for a job transfer may be an appropriate reasonable accommodations under the ADA, all employers are well-advised to adjust their policies to reflect this development in the law,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “We at the EEOC are encouraged that the decree just entered reflects that development. More generally, this decree reflects what employers and the EEOC can accomplish with respect to ADA compliance when there is a willingness to sit down and talk. There are no losers here, and the public interest has been well served.”

If you have suffered disability, gender, religious or age discrimination, please give California Employment Attorney, Todd M. Friedman a call for a free consultation.