Home Banking & Finance M&T Bank to pay $700,000 to settle Hudson City Savings disability lawsuit

M&T Bank to pay $700,000 to settle Hudson City Savings disability lawsuit

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M&T Bank Corp. has agreed to pay $700,000 to former employees of Hudson City Savings Bank who were fired or not accommodated because of disabilities.

Hudson City Savings Bank M&TThe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued in 2017 in federal court in White Plains for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hudson City Savings had denied reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, according to a consent decree filed Dec. 19, required them to go on involuntary leaves or fired them because of their disabilities.

The decree covers two years, from 2013 until late 2015, when M&T Bank of Buffalo acquired Hudson City Savings. The EEOC complaint and consent decree were filed against M&T’s Wilmington Trust Corp. subsidiary.

Hudson City was based in Paramus, New Jersey, and had numerous branch offices in the New York City metro area, including 11 in Westchester County. It had $35.4 billion in assets, according to the Federal Reserve System order approving the M&T acquisition, and $18.2 billion in deposits that made it the 49th largest depository organization in the U.S.

The EEOC complaint gives four examples of discrimination, but names only Carmen Gaillard, a teller in the Harrison branch.

Gaillard had Achilles tendinitis and bone spurs that limited her ability to stand and walk. She asked for permission to wear an orthopedic boot that would have enabled her to perform the essential functions of her job.

Hudson City denied her request, according to the EEOC complaint. Bank policy required employees with “potential disabilities” to take a leave of absence and return to work only if a doctor provided a written notice stating that there were no restrictions on the employee.

The bank also did not allow employees to remain on medical or disability leave for more than 26 weeks, according to the complaint. After 26 weeks of involuntary leave, Gaillard was fired.

The EEOC complaint describes similar circumstances with unnamed employees at three other branch offices: a clerk with a broken foot in Staten Island, a teller with pregnancy complications in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a clerk with arthritis in Jersey City.

In signing the consent decree, Wilmington Trust denied engaging in the kinds of “alleged activities” described by the EEOC, after acquiring Hudson City in 2015.

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