In 2005, department store chain Dillard's implemented a policy that required its workers in California and throughout the entire United States to provide managers with notes from doctors when requesting sick leave.
Although it is not uncommon for employers to request a doctor's note when an employee asks to take a sick leave, employers cannot force workers to disclose detailed information about their private health problems or treatments. According to a class-action lawsuit that was filed a few years ago, Dillard's did just that. When the company implemented its new nationwide policy, workers were told that their sick leave requests needed to include information about their medical conditions and the types of treatment they would be receiving for their conditions.
After the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received and investigated a complaint about the department store chain's policy, the EEOC concluded that the retailer's sick leave policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. This week, Dillard's finally agreed to settle the case.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Dillard's will pay $2 million for violating the rights of thousands of employees. Some employees were even fired when they chose not to disclose details about their personal medical conditions with managers after requesting sick leave. Others didn't know how else to protect their jobs other than to share their private information with the retailer. Disclosing personal medical information might have been embarrassing or painful for some workers.
As part of the settlement, Dillard's has also agreed to make changes to its current employment policies in order to make sure its policies do not violate the ADA or other employee rights.
When workers are not sure whether their rights are being violated by employers, they may want to consider consulting an attorney. If one's rights have been violated, he or she may be entitled to obtain compensation for an employer's wrongdoings. Additionally, when violations are exposed, employers are often prompted to make important changes that could provide a better environment for all employees.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Dillard's to pay $2 million to settle discrimination suit," Shan Li, Dec. 18, 2012