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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
12-19-11

American Apparel Agrees to Settle EEOC Disability Bias Suit for $60,000

Garment Worker Fired While on Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charged

LOS ANGELES — American Apparel,  Inc., a clothing manufacturer employing thousands of workers at its production  facility in Los Angeles and at retail stores around the country, will pay  $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit  filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency  announced today.

In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central  District of California (EEOC v. American Apparel, Inc., Case No.  CV 10-7280-MMM (MAN), the  EEOC charged that the company violated federal law when it fired a garment  worker while he was on leave because of a disability, and thereby failed to  accommodate him based upon that disability, a violation of the Americans with  Disabilities Act (ADA).

After the suit was filed, the EEOC  and American Apparel worked collaboratively over an extended period of time to  arrive at a settlement of the case. As  part of the three-year consent decree settling the suit, American Apparel has  adopted a comprehensive ADA policy; agreed to provide training to its managers  and supervisors regarding the ADA; will inform employees about their rights  under the ADA and how to seek accommodations under it; and will designate an  ADA coordinator who will oversee implementation of the decree and the company’s  ADA policy going forward. In addition,  American Apparel will pay the terminated garment worker $40,000.

Further, the company will spend  $20,000 of the $60,000 settlement amount to sponsor, in conjunction with Los  Angeles-based non-profit organizations, two seminars on the rights of workers  and responsibilities of employers under the ADA.

“We are pleased that American  Apparel recognizes the importance of the ADA and  is implementing measures to insure its full compliance with the ADA going forward,” said  Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District  Office. “Employers should enforce  internal policies and procedures flexible enough to fairly and promptly address  accommodation requests by those with disabilities.”

Olophius Perry, district director  for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “People with disabilities  can make very productive and creative employees. The ability for them to flourish is dependent  on an employer’s approach to handling requests for reasonable accommodation. The cost of accommodations is often minimal,  yet the benefits to employees as well as their employers are infinite.”

According to company information, aside  from American Apparel’s manufacturing venture, the Los Angeles-based company is  also a leading clothing distributor and retailer. American Apparel employs approximately 10,000  people globally (about 5,000 in Los    Angeles) and operates more than 285 retail stores in  20 countries.

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.