Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jury Awards $277,565 to Diabetic Fired by Dollar General After Consuming Juice to Prevent Attack

I had written about a similar case back in 2014 and am surprised to hear this current case went all the way to trial given how the other case survived summary judgment and the facts are fairly similar. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") announced that a federal jury has awarded their charging party $277,565 ($27,565 in back pay and $250,000 in compensatory damages) in a disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") when Dollar General fired a former cashier, Linda K. Atkins, when she drank a juice, prior to purchase, in response to symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack and to protect the store, despite the fact she had informed the store previously about her condition.  As soon as the medical emergency passed, Atkins paid for the bottle of orange juice that cost $1.69 plus tax.  Later, the district manager and loss prevention manager appeared in the store to address inventory shrinkage and fired Atkins after she admitted to drinking orange juice prior to purchase.

From the article discussing the jury award:
According to EEOC's suit, a cashier at the an insulin-dependent diabetic, told her supervisor she was a diabetic and requested on several occasions that her supervisor allow her to keep juice near the register to prevent a hypoglycemic attack. At trial, the cashier testified that her supervisor told her that Dollar General did not allow employees to keep food or drink near the register. Although Dollar General had an accommodation policy that could have allowed the cashier to keep juice near the register, the employees, including management at the Maryville store, did not know about the policy.
EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams added, "This case highlights another employer who failed to train its employees on the reasonable accommodation requirements under the ADA. Dollar General represents one of the largest variety retailers in the country. Yet it failed to ensure that its employees and management staff knew about its reasonable accommodation policy. It was as if Dollar General had no policy at all. Instead of accepting responsibility for its inaction, Dollar General argued the employee did not need an accommodation. We hope this jury verdict sends a message to its employers, train your employees on the reasonable accommodation requirements under the ADA."
The case is EEOC and Linda K. Atkins v. Dolgencorp, LLC, dba Dollar General Corporation,
(Civil Action No.3:14-CV-441) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

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