By Tom M. Cramer, J.D.
Earlier this month, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee awarded a Dollar General employee $277,565 for disability discrimination.
A diabetic cashier at a Tennessee Dollar General store had requested to keep juice by her register in case of a hypoglycemic attack. Management denied the request. When she subsequently suffered an attack in September 2014, the cashier grabbed a juice bottle off the store’s shelves. After the attack subsided, she paid for the drink. She admitted all this to her superiors. A few days later, management fired because she consumed the drink before buying it.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to qualified, disabled employees. While the term is flexible surely keeping a bottle of juice at the cashier’s register during work hours is a reasonable accommodation. A disabled employee is not required to inform management of its ADA obligations. Employers are responsible to train all employees – upper management and below – in ADA policy.
A simple $2 drink cost Dollar General a quarter million dollars. Don’t let this happen to you. Train your staff on ADA regulations and requirements.