Supermarket Company Settles ADA Suit for $3.2M

January 6, 2011 ( – A supermarket company has agreed to pay $3.2 million as part of an out of court settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over allegations it illegally terminated disabled employees after their medical leaves.

An EEOC news release said Jewel-Osco, which includes SUPERVALU INC., American Drug Stores LLC, and Jewel Food Stores, was charged in an EEOC lawsuit with maintaining a policy to fire the disabled workers rather than take them back with accommodations to handle their handicap after a leave. According to the government, 1,000 employees of the defendants’ Jewel-Osco stores in the greater Chicago area were allegedly terminated under this policy since 2003. 

The fund to be set up under the agreement approved by a federal judge provides for a $29,000 average award for the workers, the EEOC said. The company also agreed to provide additional employee training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to hire consultants to make sure its job descriptions are accurate, and recommend potential accommodations to help the company rehire returning disabled employees from a medical leave.

The company will have to report regularly to the EEOC on its efforts to accommodate employees with disabilities who are attempting to return from medical leaves of absence and will revise its communications with such employees to assure them that they need not be 100% healed to be considered for a return to work.