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Illinois manufacturer to pay $418,000 to settle EEOC disability bias case

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An Illinois storage container manufacturing company has agreed to pay $418,000 to settle Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges that it discriminated against disabled employees by refusing to accommodate them, the agency said Wednesday.

Mattoon, Illinois- based Justrite Manufacturing Co. was charged by the EEOC with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to engage in an interactive dialogue with disabled employees to find reasonable accommodations; denied reasonable accommodations outright, and/or retaliated against those who requested accommodations or complained about discrimination.

In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides that the company will conduct ADA training for all of its 130 employees among other measures, the agency said.

“The reasonable accommodation process works best when both the worker and the employer engage in a good-faith, collaborative discussion to find a mutually beneficial way for the disabled employee to perform the job,” said John P. Rowe, Director of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, in a statement.

“Retaliation against those who seek to begin this discussion would obviously undermine that process. Such conduct is not only illegal under the ADA, but is also destructive to the greater national goal of enabling employees, disabled or not, to take their place as workers as far as their talents and abilities will take them.”

The EEOC said in its statement that the company has denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to conciliate the matter with the EEOC and a class of individuals, including those who had filed charges.

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.