EEOC Obtains $120,000 for Driver With Disability Denied Accommodation and Fired
SAN FRANCISCO — The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. (NYSE: PBG) agreed to pay $120,000 and implement preventive measures to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Pepsi terminated Eldridge Davis, a driver at its Hayward, Calif., facility, for “job abandonment and violation of the company attendance policy,” even though Davis had followed proper procedure to inform his supervisor and the company that he could not finish his route due to his disability and needed to take medical leave.
Davis, age 48, had worked for Pepsi since October 1996 and was promoted to driver in December 1999.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. This settlement resolves EEOC v. Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc., CV 09-4594 EMC, filed in 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Pepsi agreed to implement training on anti-discrimination laws, post a notice at the work site on the settlement and other injunctive relief, in addition to paying Davis $120,000.
“Medical leave is a widely recognized accommodation, and in Mr. Davis’s case, could easily have been granted, avoiding the loss of a valuable and experienced employee,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “Since recent amendments to the ADA have broadened the definition of disability, forward-thinking employers may want to re-evaluate their policies on workplace accommodations. Studies show that reasonable accommodations are frequently no- or low-cost, with the added benefit of improving productivity and morale, reducing turnover and building a diverse and loyal work force.”
According to the company’s web site, www.pbg.com, Somers, N.Y.-based The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer, seller and distributor of Pepsi-Cola beverages, with operations in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Spain, Turkey and Greece and more than 70,000 employees worldwide. The company produces and sells more than 1.7 billion cases of beverages each year.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.