The EEOC announced today that a jury found in favor of a former employee of a Dollar General in Knoxville, Tennessee in a disability discrimination suit and awarded the employee $277,565 in damages. The plaintiff, a cashier at the retail giant, is a diabetic and had requested on several occasions the reasonable accommodation of being allowed to drink from a bottle of orange juice kept near the register. Dollar General had a policy of accommodation that would have allowed the plaintiff to keep juice near the cash register, but neither the management, nor other employees were aware of the policy.
One day, the cashier drank from a bottle of orange juice, prior to purchasing it, in response to symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack. This violated Dollar General’s “grazing” policy. As soon as the medical emergency passed, the cashier paid for the bottle of orange juice. The store fired the cashier, even though management knew she was diabetic, drank the orange juice to because of her diabetes, and that she had requested previously to be able to do so as an accommodation.
The EEOC filed suit against Dollar General -- the nations largest small-box retailer -- after attempting conciliation and the plaintiff joined in her own personal suit.
“We are very pleased with the jury verdict,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. “It is disappointing, however, that we continue to see cases where employers fail to train their employees on basic requirements under the ADA. The Commission will continue to carry out its goal of ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace for persons with disabilities.”
"We hope this jury verdict sends a message to its employers, train your employees on the reasonable accommodation requirements under the ADA,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams. The case highlights the need for businesses to train its managers, supervisors and employees about the law and the company's own policies, rules and regulations.
More information can be found here. Information about the EEOC and the laws it is charged with enforcing can be found at www..eeoc.gov.