Cato Corp pays $3.5 million over discrimination violations
The Cato Corporation has agreed to pay $3.5 million after a nationwide, systemic investigation conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) uncovered the retailer's discrimination against pregnant and disabled employees.
The investigation, conducted by the EEOC’s Chicago and Philadelphia District Offices as well as its Office of Enterprise and Data and Analytics, found that the the North Carolina-based women's retailer denied reasonable accommodations to certain pregnant or disabled employees, made some take unpaid leaves of absence, and/or terminated them because of their disabilities. These actions, the agency said, violate both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The $3.5 million will be distributed to Cato employees who were terminated because of their pregnancy or disabilities, as part of a voluntary settlement between the retailer and the federal agency.
According to the EEOC, The Cato Corporation has also agreed to "update its reasonable accommodation policies to prevent further discrimination against these employees in the future," and to "revise its employment policies to more fully consider whether medical restrictions of its pregnant employees or those with disabilities can be reasonably accommodated."
To prevent further incidences, The Cato Corporation will conduct company-wide training for over 10,000 of its employees, and will periodically report to the EEOC on its responses to requests for reasonable accommodation by pregnant and disabled employees for three years.
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