That time the EEOC recovered $250K for a C-Suite employee who claimed disability discrimination


Proving that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doesn’t just enforce anti-discrimination laws on behalf of the “little guy,” the EEOC announced on Monday that it had recovered $250,000 from a company that allegedly terminated its former CFO because of his disability.

Yes, that’s when it happened. Or, at least when the EEOC announced a settlement that it had reached — Happy Valentine’s Day!

An earlier press release described the lawsuit this way:

According to the EEOC’s suit, [the company’s CFO] informed his employer of his diagnosis of severe depression and requested to take three weeks off work, per his doctor’s recommendation. [The] CEO told the employee to take as much time as he needed to get well.  However, six weeks later, when the employee tried to return to work, presenting a release to return to work from his doctor, the CEO said he couldn’t trust the employee to perform his job duties and terminated his employment effective immediately.

This sounds a little bit like the CEO got caught playing doctor, which is rarely a good idea. It can violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment.

I’m assuming that the company tacitly acknowledged this too because it settled with the EEOC less than two months after the federal anti-discrimination law enforcer filed its lawsuit.

Beyond writing a hefty settlement check, the company agreed to reporting, monitoring, training, creating and distributing ADA policies, and notice posting.

I can’t remember the last time I read about the EEOC filing suit on behalf of someone who sat in the C-Suite. It’s not so much that the EEOC is less interested in enforcing the law on behalf of high-wage earners, but usually, those folks have their own attorneys. And since the EEOC has limited resources, it often devotes them to systemic violations or vulnerable, unrepresented single-employee claims.

Either way, don’t get it twisted. The EEOC underscored that it is “committed to seeking relief for workers who are harmed by employers who discriminate against employees with disabilities because of biases and fears.”

That may include your boss.

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