Anxiety Disability Discrimination Lawsuit against Citizens Bank Settles for $100,000
Citizens Bank has been accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to accommodate a call center employee who developed an anxiety disorder. The employee requested reassignment to a position that did not require him to field calls with aggravated customers over the phone. Despite having hundreds of nearby job openings, Citizens Bank refused to reassign the employee or discuss alternative accommodations until he returned to his job at the call center, the same position his disability prevented him from performing. As a result, the employee was forced to resign.
“We’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of potential or prospective clients calling us since the pandemic began with regard to either mental health issues in general or anxiety and PTSD.” Andrew H. Friedman – in an Law360 article entitled, No Letup in Sight as Anxiety-Related EEOC Charges Mount.
The EEOC filed a lawsuit (EEOC v. Citizens Bank, N.A., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00362) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC alleges that Citizens Bank violated the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, including reassignment.
According to the EEOC, 2600 workers lodged anxiety-related disability discrimination charges in 2021. Citizens Bank has agreed to a 30-month consent decree that includes monetary relief and other measures to support employees with disabilities. The bank will offer noncompetitive reassignment as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The bank will also revise its reasonable accommodation policy, train its employees on noncompetitive reassignment as a reasonable accommodation, provide specialized training to its human resources department, and appoint an internal monitor to ensure compliance with the decree.
The EEOC is committed to enforcing the ADA and ensuring that qualified employees with disabilities can return to work. Citizens Bank will implement company-wide policy changes and pay $100,000 to a former Cranston, Rhode Island, call center employee to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit.
More information about disability discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc-disability-related-resources.