It starts out as a simple challenge: Companies need a way to track employee attendance. 

From there, employees need a clear set of rules that outline their obligations.

But strict attendance policies often run headlong into the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Latest example: The EEOC charged Illinois-based packing company Pactiv LLC with disability discrimination following an investigation that revealed the company, following its policy, charged workers with “attendance points” for medical-related absences.

Result: Pactiv agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle a disability discrimination charge filed with the EEOC.

The EEOC investigation found that Pactiv discriminated against individuals with disabilities by disciplining and discharging them according to its nationwide policies to issue attendance points for medical-related absences; not allowing intermittent leave as a reasonable accommodation; and not allowing leave or an extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC has gone on record saying policies like Pactiv’s violate the ADA because they leave no room for companies to consider leave — or an extension of leave — as a reasonable accommodation to help disabled individuals keep their jobs.

Pactiv agreed to conciliate the matter with EEOC and a class of individuals, including the individual who filed a charge against the employer, rather than pursue the matter through litigation.

Other remedial steps

The settlement provides monetary relief to those who have already been discriminated against, and also ensures the company will take measures to prevent future discrimination.

According to the agreement, Pactiv will:

  1. conduct ADA training at each of its locations nationwide
  2. revise and distribute its ADA policy and procedures, including those related to providing reasonable accommodations to employees, and
  3. revise and distribute nationwide its new attendance policy that will not assess points for disability-related absences.

The company will also provide periodic reporting to EEOC on all accommo­dation requests from employees and on all employees assessed attendance points, as well as post an internal notification of the settlement.

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