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Large “Dollar” Chain Loses Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate Case

Emanuel Shirazi

An employee of Dollar General, a large discount variety retailer, recently won a disability discrimination lawsuit she filed against the company two years ago. The former employee claims that she was fired because she had diabetes and needed to treat it during working hours.

Details of the case are as follows:

  1. The hypoglycemic employee claimed that she needed to have juice near her register in case she felt a hypoglycemic attack coming on. The supervisor told her this wasn’t possible because company policy did not allow employees to keep food or drink near the register.
  2. While alone in the store one day, the employee felt an attack coming on and opened an orange juice prior to paying for it. Once she felt better, she purchased the juice. The district manager and loss prevention manager claimed that this action violated the company’s “grazing” policy.
  3. Once her managers found out that she consumed the juice prior to paying for it, they fired her.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the cashier awarding her back pay and compensatory damages. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and similar state laws, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations—such as exceptions to policies that may otherwise interfere with the health of disabled employees. Instead of accepting fault for failing to accommodate their employee, Dollar General argued that she needed no accommodation. This verdict sends a clear message to employers that they should take care of their disabled employees and that they should better train their managers about the ADA’s accommodation requirements.

What do you think of Dollar General’s conduct?

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