Bloomberg reported recently that a jury in San Francisco would soon decide the fate of a former Walgreens employee who was allegedly fired after she opened a bag of chips during a hypoglycemic diabetic attack without paying for them.
According to the news source, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently rejected an argument that Josephina Hernandez’s disability did not provide her with cover from discharge for violating the company’s “anti-grazing” rule.
An Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit was filed on Hernandez’s behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the case, Walgreens contends that it has the anti-grazing policy in place because it loses more than $350 million per year because of worker theft. It said that it is applied universally to all employees.
However, according to Bloomberg, Judge William H. Orrick said that, under U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit precedent, worker misconduct resulting from a disability must be considered to be part of the disability.
The cost of the bag of chips was $1.39, according to the lawsuit. Hernandez was reportedly stocking items when the low blood sugar attack occurred. Hernandez, who worked at Walgreens for 18 years, reportedly tried to pay for the chips after taking them, but no one was available at the counter for her to pay for the merchandise.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer Over a Disability?
This case is inexcusable. Walgreens is saying it fired the employee for violating a rule, when clearly the company is required to reasonably accommodate a person with a disability. It is sad that disability discrimination continues to occur on a daily basis throughout the nation like this.
As a result, many laws exist at the federal and state levels that address disability discrimination, particularly with respect to employment.
It should be noted that for a person to be eligible to make a disability discrimination claim under the ADA or FEHA, he or she must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” If you are contemplating filing a lawsuit over your company’s discriminatory practices, contact a Los Angeles employment lawyer to help guide your decision. Call our office today to schedule a consultation at (310) 273-3180.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys
Did You Know? A “reasonable accommodation” occurs when an employer modifies job duties.