Denny's Hit with ADA Suit over Medical Leave Policy

September 29, 2006 ( - A national restaurant chain has been accused of discriminating against disabled workers and then firing them after denying them needed medical leave.

In a news release, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said it had made the discrimination charge in a federal lawsuit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Denny’s, Inc.

The EEOC said the company, which operates more than 500 corporate-owned restaurants in 30 states, discriminated against disabled employees nationwide. The employees were not provided reasonable accommodation as called for in the ADA and were fired after being denied medical leave needed in connection with their disabilities, according to the charges.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that Denny’s refused to provide one of its restaurant managers in Baltimore with accommodations for her disability, a leg amputation; prohibited her from working in its restaurants because of her disability, despite her desire to return to work; and fired her because of her disability.

The EEOC further charged in the suit that Denny’s violated the rights of a class of workers with disabilities by maintaining a maximum medical leave policy that automatically denied additional medical leave beyond a pre-determined limit –even when additional time off was required by the ADA – resulting in their illegal firings.

In the suit, the EEOC asked for a court order requiring Denny’s to comply with the ADA and barring Denny’s from applying its maximum medical leave policy to disabled employees who are lawfully entitled to additional medical time off. In addition, the EEOC seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief for victims and the public.