Skip top navigation Skip to content

print   email  Share

PRESS RELEASE
2-10-10

Branch Banking And Trust To Pay Damages To Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Hearing-Impaired Worker Denied Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged

WILSON,  N.C. – A major Winston-Salem, N.C.-based financial holding company will pay  $24,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had sued Branch Banking and Trust  (BB&T), thenation's 10th largest financial holding company, on behalf  of a hearing-impaired employee who was denied a reasonable accommodation to  which she was entitled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In  its suit (EEOC v. Branch Banking &  Trust, Civil Action No. 7:06-CV-00071,  filed in U.S. District Court for the  Eastern District of North Carolina), the EEOC charged that Linda Hewett, who  worked for the bank’s Whiteville, N.C., branch as a senior teller, was denied a  transfer to a vacant position for which she was qualified and as a result, was  forced to resign in October 2003. Hewett  had sought a transfer before she resigned because she was no longer able to  perform her job due to her progressively severe hearing loss. The EEOC alleged that Hewett was denied  reassignment to other vacant positions in which her hearing loss would not  limit her ability to perform her job.  The case was scheduled to go to trial the second week of February, but  the parties reached agreement during a court-hosted settlement conference.

In  addition to paying $24,000 in compensatory damages to Hewett, BB&T must  take other actions set forth in the consent decree resolving the case,  including providing anti-dis­crimination training to the staff of the banking  network of its Southeast Region.  Further, the company is enjoined from engaging in further disability  discrimination and must report com­plaints of disability discrimination made at  its banking network of the Southeast Region to the EEOC for monitoring.

“Workers  with disabilities are productive members of the American workforce,” said  Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District  Office. “Under federal law, emp­loyers are required to  make reasonable accommodations to enable disabled workers to perform their jobs  unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the employer. If reassign­ment to an open position for  which the disabled worker is qualified is the only available option to keep her  employed, the employer must reassign her absent undue hardship.”

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