Published Date: 07/28/2014
By George Ports
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that Walgreens, America’s largest drugstore chain has agreed to pay $180,000 to a longtime employee with diabetes and to implement revised policies and training to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the agency.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that a former cashier, who has Type II Diabetes, was fired by a South San Francisco Walgreens because of her disability after she ate a $1.39 bag of chips during a hypoglycemic attack in order to stabilize her blood sugar level. The employee had worked for Walgreens for almost 18 years with no disciplinary record, and Walgreens was aware of her diabetes. The company security officer, however, testified that he did not understand nor did he seek clarification when the employee wrote, “My sugar low. Not have time,” in reply to his request for an explanation of why she took the chips before paying.
Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. After an EEOC investigation and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the lawsuit.
According to the consent decree settling the suit ordered by the presiding judge, Walgreens agreed to pay the affected employee $180,000 and to post its revised policy regarding accommodation of disabled employees on its employee intranet site. The company will also provide anti-discrimination training, make periodic reports to the EEOC and post a notice regarding the decree for three years.
For more information about the EEOC and the laws it enforces, go to www.eeoc.gov.