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Bank to pay $700,000 to settle EEOC disability bias case

Bank to pay $700,000 to settle EEOC disability bias case

A bank has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that charged the bank with an inflexible disability policy.

The EEOC litigation charging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act was filed against Hudson City Savings Bank, which merged into Wilmington Trust Co., a subsidiary of Buffalo, New York-based M&T Bank Corp. in 2015, according to the EEOC statement issued Wednesday.

The EEOC said Hudson City had a long-standing inflexible policy and practice of placing employees with impairment or disabilities on involuntary leave until or unless it received a medical provider’s clearance to return to work with no restrictions.

The EEOC said this resulted in denying qualified individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations, as well as placing them on involuntary leave and/or discharging them because of their disability. It said the bank’s policy affected employees in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In addition to paying the $700,000 award, among other provisions the consent decree resolving the case includes a two-year injunction against Wilmington Trust for policies or practices that would require employees to work with no restrictions, or otherwise deny them an interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.

Hudson City’s policy “was in place since at least 2002 and, knowing of the 'no restrictions' require­ment, some employees did not even attempt to request necessary accommodations of their disabilities," New York-based EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein said in the statement. "Wilmington Trust's actions required by the consent decree will ensure that legacy employees will be fully informed that HCSB's long-standing policy no longer applies."

M&T said in a statement, ”This case involved a legal claim that we inherited from Hudson City about its practices prior to the merger. The allegations in this case did not involve a Wilmington Trust or M&T policy – they related to an apparent practice at Hudson City prior to the merger. We work hard to create a workplace where all of our employees feel valued and are able to reach their full potential.”

A nursing home operator agreed in October to pay $465,000 to settle an EEOC pregnancy and disability discrimination lawsuit, the agency said Wednesday.






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