On Friday, the EEOC filed suit against AutoZone, alleging that the car repair company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by applying its attendance policy in a way that failed to accommodate certain disability-related absences. This is the EEOC’s fourth disability discrimination case against AutoZone in the last 5 years.
Under AutoZone’s policy, employees received points for absences, with 12 points resulting in termination. According to the EEOC, the policy did not make any allowances for disability-related absences (such as early departures by a diabetic employee who had insulin reactions), which the EEOC has alleged constituted a failure to accommodate.
Employers often — wrongly — assume that the fact that an employee doesn’t qualify for (or has exhausted) FMLA leave means that he can be terminated for his absences. However, if the reason for the absence relates to the employee’s medical condition, it’s critical that the absence be considered under an ADA reasonable accommodation analysis as well.