Sears Roebuck & Co. recently agreed to a record settlement in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission[EEOC] lawsuit alleging the retailer illegally fired disabled workers. The $6.2 million dollar settlement amount is the largest settlement for a disability-related case in EEOC history. The case arose from allegations made by John Bava, former Sears technician who was seriously injured after a fall at a customer’s home. Bava took took some time off under Workers Compensation, but was still disabled when he tried to return to work. Sears refused to reinstate him, or make accomodations for his disability. When Bava’s leave expired, he was terminated. EEOC lawyers indicated they uncovered 100 similar cases where injured employees sought accomodations upon their return, only to be terminated.
Sears issued a statement insisting that they reasonably accomodated employees and settled the case because of the cost of litigation. In other words, the tried and true “We are innocent but lawyers are just so damn expensive” explanation. Sears lawyers must be very, very expensive.