Circle K Stores Inc. will pay $8 million to settle US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges of disability discrimination, pregnancy and retaliation, the agency said Tuesday.
The EEOC said this resolves several discrimination charges filed against the Tempe, Arizona-based chain, and follows an EEOC investigation that determined the company likely denied reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and people with disabilities, subjecting them to actions such as involuntary unpaid leave , retaliation , requiring them to be fully healed before returning to work, or layoffs.
The EEOC said these actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Mark Novak, Circle K’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement included in the EEOC’s press release that the agency’s investigation stemmed from discrimination allegations filed between 2010 and 2015, when the company “expanded our operations and integrated thousands of stores and tens of thousands employees.”
“Over the past decade, we have made a focused effort to centralize and strengthen our ADA compliance efforts,” he said.
The EEOC said a class fund is being established that will cover individuals affected by the alleged violations who worked at Circle K between July 10, 2009 and September 26, 2022.
Among other measures, the company has also agreed to update its policies as needed and appoint a coordinator to oversee pregnancy-related disability policies, reasonable accommodation requests and record keeping.