By Bryan Stillwagon
On Friday, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against AutoZone targeting the company’s “no fault” attendance policy because of its negative impact on disabled employees requesting accommodations. The suit, EEOC v. Autozone, Inc., No. 1:14-cv-03385 (N.D. Ill.), alleges the company refused to grant accommodations and then fired employees who took additional time off because of their disabilities. The EEOC says AutoZone refused to allow an employee with a herniated disc to sit during portions of his shift and denied a schedule change aimed at decreasing the likelihood of another employee’s migraines. AutoZone’s attendance policy is “no fault,” meaning employees accrue “points” for absences. After a certain number of points, the employee is terminated. The EEOC alleges “points” accrued even when the employee missed work for disability-related reasons.
This case is a continuation of the EEOC’s attack on bright-line, one-size-fits-all policies. The EEOC argues that such policies ignore obligations to participate in an interactive process with the employee to determine on a case-by-case basis whether an accommodation exists that is reasonable. Of course, you also can’t compel an employee to ask for an accommodation.