Daily News Wire Services
Posted: 12/19/2011 11:10:48 AM PST
Updated: 12/19/2011 11:13:45 AM PST
LOS ANGELES – American Apparel will pay $60,000 and provide better training to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by a garment worker who was fired by the Los Angeles-based company after returning from medical leave for cancer treatment, employment regulators said today.
American Apparel, which operates what it claims is the largest garment factory in the nation, violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act when it terminated the worker, who requested medical leave in order to undergo chemotherapy treatment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
His request for medical leave was approved and he supplied documentation regarding the status of his treatment, according to the EEOC.
Although the garment worker returned to work when he completed treatment, he was subsequently informed that the company no longer had a position for him, resulting in immediate termination, according to the lawsuit.
After the suit was filed last year, the EEOC and American Apparel worked collaboratively over an extended period of time to arrive at a settlement.
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, according to the federal agency.
American Apparel will pay the terminated garment worker $40,000, the EEOC reported.
The company will also spend $20,000 to sponsor, in conjunction with Los Angeles-based nonprofit 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,” she said.
American Apparel, a clothing manufacturer, distributor and retailer, employs about 10,000 people globally — about 5,000 in Los Angeles — and operates more than 285 retail stores in 20 countries, according to its website.