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Target to Pay $160K to Settle Discrimination Suit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that Target Corporation violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying a disabled employee "reasonable accommodation" and reducing his work hours because of his disability.

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation has agreed to pay $160,000 and change company policies to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuit against Target in August 2009 in U.S. District Court in California, claiming that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to court documents, Target hired Jeremy Schott-who suffers from cerebral palsy, limited intellectual functioning, and a seizure disorder-as a part-time employee in 2002.

The EEOC claims in the lawsuit that Target failed to ensure the presence of a job coach during Schott's work-related and job-performance meetings even though Schott's parents and job coaches requested prior notification of such meetings.

In addition, Schott's work hours were decreased dramatically, sometimes totaling only eight hours per week, after a 2004 medical leave of absence due to a seizure, the suit said.

"Less-senior, non-disabled coworkers consistently received two or more times as many work hours every week," the EEOC said in the lawsuit.

In addition to paying $160,000 under the settlement agreement, Target has agreed to designate an ADA coordinator in its corporate-level human resources department and implement a companywide policy regarding requests for reasonable accommodations.

The company also agreed to train executive team leaders and team lead employees on handling requests for reasonable accommodations. It will additionally submit reports to the EEOC regarding certain disability discrimination-related complaints.

"People with disabilities can be productive employees when their needs are heard and met," Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles district office, said in a statement. "However, employers must be mindful to treat workers with disabilities fairly and decently and ensure that reasonable accommodation requests are properly carried out."

"Target is pleased that it was able to resolve this matter with the EEOC and a former team member," the company said in an e-mailed statement. "Target is a strong advocate of employing individuals with disabilities and believes that the team member was treated fairly."

Target-which operates a retail segment and a credit-card segment-now serves customers at 1,755 stores in 49 states nationwide and on its Web site. It is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on its revenue, which totaled $67.4 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.

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