DENVER (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Feb. 6 that The Coleman Company Inc. will settle allegations of disability discrimination.

According to EEOC, Coleman enforced a business policy in which former employees could only receive severance pay if they agreed to an overly broad severance agreement that interfered with their right to communicate with, file charges with and accept relief from EEOC. This alleged policy violates Section 503 of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 704 and 706 of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

"We applaud the Coleman Company for proactively tackling this issue once it was brought to its attention," said EEOC Phoenix regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill in a statement. "Increasingly, we are seeing employers, whether intentionally or not, including overbroad language in their separation agreements that interferes with signatories' rights to participate in EEOC processes or that impedes the EEOC's ability to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws as it deems necessary."

Coleman agreed to hire an outside equal employment opportunity consultant to review its separation agreements. The company did not admit liability.

"We hope other employers learn from Coleman's model behavior and pay closer attention to their separation agreements,” said Phoenix District director Elizabeth Cadle in a statement. “No matter the intent, whether intentionally misleading or inadvertent, employers cannot insist on agreement provisions that are void against public policy."

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