U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Communication Company's Inflexible Leave and Attendance Policies Deny Employees Reasonable Accommodations, Federal Agency Charges
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Oceanic Time Warner Cable LLC, doing business as Spectrum, violated federal law when it denied leave as an accommodation to a class of customer service representatives at its headquarters in Mililani, Hawaii, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC contends that Spectrum maintained inflexible leave and attendance policies that did not allow additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. Upon the exhaustion of FMLA leave, Spectrum failed to engage in the interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations could be provided, and simply notified employees that if they could not return to full duty, they would be discharged. The EEOC further charged that Spectrum denied reasonable accommodations to probationary employees because its policy only allowed for two unpaid absences during the six-month probationary period. For employees who have exhausted their earned sick hours and two unpaid absences, the company did not engage in the interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations could be provided, and instead terminated their employment.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Oceanic Time Warner Cable LLC dba Spectrum and Charter Communications, Inc. Case No. 1:18-cv-00357-DKW-KJM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay along with compensatory and punitive damages for the class, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and address discrimination.
"The EEOC continues to see employers failing to adhere to the requirements for reasonable accommodations under federal law," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. "Employers should audit their policies to makes sure they comply with the ADA, and remember to make exceptions to inflexible policies when required to provide reasonable accommodations."
Glory Gervacio Saure, director for the EEOC's Honolulu Local Office, added, "Terminating employees on leave without engaging in the interactive process and requiring employees to return to full duty without an accommodation are issues that the EEOC continually sees. Employers should take heed and address these practices for the betterment of their company."
Charter Communications acquired Oceanic Time Warner Cable in 2016 and operates as Spectrum. According to their website, www.spectrum.com, Charter Communications is America's fastest growing TV, internet, and voice company.
Addressing disability discrimination in the form of inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.