By  on September 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — Sears Holdings Corp. on Tuesday agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged disability bias.

The EEOC filed the case against Sears, claiming it failed to provide the required accommodations for employees returning from workers’ compensation leave who remained disabled, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the EEOC, the consent decree was the largest settlement for a single lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act since it was enacted in 1990. The agreement also included a mandate for Sears to amend its workers’ compensation leave policies.

“The era of employers being able to inflexibly and universally apply a leave limits policy without seriously considering the reasonable accommodation requirements of the ADA are over,” said John Hendrickson, an attorney in the EEOC’s Chicago district office.

Sears said Tuesday that despite the settlement, it “continues to believe that it reasonably accommodates its associates on leave due to work-related illnesses or injuries under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” But it also said it has established an internal team to protect its associates’ interests with respect to leave and to administer the terms of the settlement with the EEOC.

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