A diabetic gets fired over a $1.69 (plus tax) drink and Dollar General must now pay her $277,656.
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
For God’s sake, if your employee needs a drink, especially if she’s diabetic, just let her have it already.
That’s what Dollar General learned after a federal jury sided with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a case against the retail giant.
The story goes like this. Back in September 2014, an insulin-dependent diabetic cashier in Dollar General’s Maryville, Tenn. store told her supervisor she needed to keep juice near the cash register in case of a hypoglycemic attack. According to testimony at the trial, the supervisor did not allow employees to do this, although the company has a policy that would allow it for those need.
One day, fearing an oncoming attack, the cashier drank a $1.69 (plus tax) orange juice before paying for it. After the symptoms passed, the cashier said she then paid for the juice. After a question about inventory arose, the employee confessed to her brazen crime of drinking before buying to the company’s district manager who then fired said employee for violating the chain’s “grazing” policy.
So back to the story.
The fired employee complains to the EEOC. The EEOC sues. The employee joins the lawsuit. The jury finds in favor of the plaintiffs and awards the employee $27,565 in back pay plus another $250,000 in compensatory damages. The EEOC is pleased. Very pleased.
“We are very pleased with the jury verdict,” EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez said in a statement. “It is disappointing, however, that we continue to see cases where employers fail to train their employees on basic requirements under the ADA (American Disability Act). The Commission will continue to carry out its goal of ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace for persons with disabilities.”