Reducing The High Cost of EEOC Complaints

The WorkPro 12000 Mesh Multifunction Ergonomic High-Back Chair is one of the most expensive office chairs available on Office Depot’s website at $329.99, but it looks like a bargain compared to the price Hyatt hotels just paid.

As multiple news organizations reported, Hyatt recently agreed to pay an employee $85,000 and provide six weeks of paid leave – worth about $15,000 – to settle a reasonable accommodations lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The employee asked the company to provide him a chair while he worked at the front desk to ease the pain from an aggravated back injury. The employee could fulfill his duties with the chair, but the hotel allowed him to use it for two weeks before refusing him further use.

A Common Occurrence

This story, and the dozens of like it reported each year, show the expensive cost of not meeting an employee’s reasonable accommodations request. While the specific details of the case were not readily available, it did highlight what can happen when a reasonable accommodations request goes unheard – regardless of the reasons behind it.

As the Americans with Disabilities Act states, reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability, unless doing so would create an undue hardship. While federal agencies likely would not face a hardship fulfilling these requests, they could easily fail to meet employee needs. That’s because of the current backlog of cases that continue to grow because of inefficient accommodation management systems.

For example, it is not uncommon for an agency’s human resources department to manage these requests via SharePoint and Excel. Agency human resources employees spend time manually entering accommodation information into an outdated system, resulting in a slow process that can greatly delay when an employee receives the accommodation requested.

Think about an expecting mother. She may request a back support for her chair while she is pregnant. Due to the slow system, though, it may not arrive before she gives birth to her child. The same could be true for an employee with back pain that just had surgery. They may only need their special accommodation for a few weeks or months after their procedure, but the current accommodation process in government agencies may be too slow to help in time.

Avoiding Claims

The Hyatt case is a worst case scenario. No organization wants it to reach that point, but too often the use of inefficient systems leads to an unwinnable situation. Even with the best intentions, organizations find themselves unable to handle all the requests that come their way. This is especially true with government agencies that feature thousands of employees spread across sometimes hundreds of offices.

By using a project like Accommodate by Symplicity, federal agencies can bring efficiency and clarity to this process. Things like data entry are put in the hands of those filing requests, and the parties responsible of fulfilling the request are given more time to meet employee demands. The end result is happier employees that get the tools they need to do their job, more at ease human resources offices that can stay on top of requests, and relaxed agency leaders that do not fear lawsuits.

For those interested in learning more, email

Complaint Management, Accommodation Requests