EEOC Sues Dillard's Over Sick Leave Inquiries

October 3,, 2008 ( - The government is suing the Dillard Store Services retail chain for requiring employees to disclose personal medical information or face dismissal.

The U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges in the suit that the Dillard’s practice violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring employees seeking to use sick leave to tell the company the specific nature of their illness. The EEOC said in a press release this corporate policy, potentially affecting thousands of workers, is an unlawful disability-related inquiry under the ADA and not justified by business necessity.

The EEOC lawsuit cites the case of a California sales associate unable to work for several days because she was ill who refused to disclose what she considered as personal medical information when she returned to the store. She was later fired.

“This case has national implications and illustrates one of the reasons why the ADA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to disability-related inquiries not justified by business necessity,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park of the agency’s Los Angeles District, in the announcement. “The ADA’s prohibition of disability-related inquiries was enacted to protect employees from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of a perceived or actual medical illness.”