Are “No-Fault” Attendance Policies Actually Discriminatory?

Attendance point systems are still prevalent at many/most manufacturing facilities. These systems are meant to simplify the attendance/discipline process. They are often billed as “no-fault” systems (i.e., they do not distinguish reasons for absence/tardiness), and they have clear milestones (i.e., accumulation of a specified point total leads to warnings, suspensions, termination). The perceived benefits are twofold:

  1. They provide “blind fairness” because they eliminate more subjective attendance factors.
  2. They are easy to implement and administer.

However, the EEOC has now filed suit against manufacturing companies that use attendance point systems, as the companies “did not excuse disability-related absences,” and as a result, are in violation of the ADA. Stay tuned for the court rulings in this litigation.

Business Takeaway: To begin, if you use a point-based attendance system, have you identified circumstances (e.g., those relating to ADA issues and accommodations) that qualify as exceptions to incurring a point? Should the litigation be successful, it will have exposed a significant flaw in a longstanding model—the blindness once perceived to be a neutral force. Contact Adam at adam@goldsteinsc.com if you are interested in revising your attendance policies and procedures.

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