WASHINGTON — North Carolina-based The Cato Corporation has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle claims by the federal government that the women's fashion retailer failed to grant reasonable accommodations to employees who were pregnant or disabled.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Cato Corporation did not accommodate pregnant employees who had some restrictions and limitations. The company also failed to provide accommodations to some employees with disabilities, even making some workers take unpaid leave or firing them due to their disability, the EEOC said.
"Giving employees a job modification that allows them to continue working can be a critical [and] reasonable accommodation for pregnant women or people with disabilities when they really need that paycheck," EEOC Chicago District director Julianne Bowman said in a statement.
"We commend The Cato Corporation for entering into a voluntary settlement and for making meaningful policy changes so that employees with disabilities and women with pregnancy-related impairments will get the reasonable accommodations they need to remain employed," added EEOC Philadelphia District director Jamie Williamson.
According to the EEOC, Cato also will be reworking its policies regarding medical restrictions for pregnant as well as disabled employees. The company also will implement training for its employees and report to the EEOC over a period of three years regarding employees' reasonable accommodation requests.