A disability discrimination suit filed against AutoZone, Inc. will be able to proceed at the national level, rather than being limited to just three of the company’s stores, a district court recently ruled. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), AutoZone had attempted to limit the scope of the federal discrimination case by arguing that the EEOC had failed to carry out a “nationwide” investigation of its stores prior to filing the lawsuit.
In the ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., however, it was noted that:
[T]he Court may not inquire into the sufficiency of the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation in order to ‘limit’ the scope of the litigation… [because this] would be imposing extra procedural requirements if it required the EEOC to offer additional proof that ‘its investigation was … conducted on a nationwide basis.'”
Background on the Discrimination Case: Allegations Levied against AutoZone
According to court documents associated with this case, from 2009 through at least 2011, AutoZone relied on an inherently discriminatory system for evaluating employees’ presence versus absence from work, leading to the illegal firing of capable disabled workers.
Specifically, the complaint explains that AutoZone’s policy involved giving workers “points” for each absence they had from work – regardless of whether that absence may have been related to a disability. At 12 points, an employee could be terminated. This led to qualified employees being terminated as a result of having to take some time off of work to treat their impairments, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC has explained.
In addition to wrongly terminating disabled employees, AutoZone is also alleged to have retaliated against one employee who was fired after complaining about this policy and submitting a charge with the EEOC.
Interestingly, this is the fourth federal disability discrimination case filed against AutoZone since 2009.
Commenting on the recent district court ruling that will allow the national case to proceed, John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, noted that:
This case alleges a serious violation of the law and should be decided on the merits…The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Mach Mining should put to rest efforts to deny employees their day in court based on unfounded arguments about administrative procedure.
As more news about this case becomes available, we will report the latest updates to you in a future blog. In the meantime, post your comments about this case on our Facebook & Google+ pages.
Contact a Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney at Urbanic & Associates
Have you been the target of workplace discrimination or retaliation? If so, you can turn to Los Angeles discrimination attorney at Urbanic & Associates for help defending your rights and pursuing justice. Since 2000, our lawyers have been dedicated, aggressive advocates for our clients, helping them stand up to even the most formidable opponents in any legal setting.
To speak directly to Attorney James Urbanic, call (310) 216-0900 or send our firm an email using the contact form on this page.
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