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Northwest Settles Disability Bias Suit

Dec 31, 2004 | Star Tribune

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said Thursday that it has reached a settlement with Northwest Airlines over a disability discrimination lawsuit.

The EEOC sued Northwest in 2001 over allegations that it excluded people with epilepsy or insulin-dependent diabetes from being considered for jobs as airport ramp workers and cleaners.

The Eagan-based carrier denied allegations raised under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Northwest said that its hiring processes are and were proper.

Under the agreement, Northwest will offer individual assessments of the ability of applicants to safely perform the key job functions. The airline said it had a longstanding practice of providing the assessments.

"Northwest is settling this case to expeditiously resolve the matter and avoid protracted litigation, but also because the procedures in the agreement reaffirm and are consistent with its commitment to equal employment opportunity," the EEOC said Thursday in a news release.

The airline agreed to pay a settlement of $510,000 that will be distributed among 28 people the EEOC represented.

"This lawsuit was an important reminder to employers that the ADA requires that they give individualized assessments to their employees with disabilities to determine whether they could perform their jobs with or without reasonable accommodation," said Chester Bailey, an EEOC official based in the Milwaukee district office.


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