In a previous piece, I wrote about a diabetic worker in East Tennessee who won a jury award in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case against Dollar General. The worker was fired for violating Dollar General’s grazing policy, which precludes employees from consuming a food item from the store before purchasing it and following other protocols. The worker claimed that she didn’t have time to follow company policy and needed to consume orange juice quickly to avoid a low blood-sugar episode. She and the EEOC claimed that Dollar General should have allowed an exception to its policy to accommodate this disability. Finding that Dollar General violated the ADA, a jury assessed over $275,000 in damages, and Dollar General was also held responsible for paying nearly $450,000 in attorney’s fees.
Earlier this month, the Sixth Circuit rejected Dollar General’s appeal and affirmed the judgment. Its opinion is here. As set forth in my original piece, this case is an important reminder about making sure that managers “issue spot” and know when to bring in HR when an employee may be perceived as requesting an accommodation for a disability. Through a more comprehensive interactive process, this costly issue may have been avoided.