THINK BEFORE YOU ACT OR IT COULD COST YOU BIG TIME
Posted by Melissa Fleischer, Esq. on Jul 9th 2014
When you have an employee with a known disability, it is imperative that you not act before you have thought through whether the employee’s actions could be caused by his/her disability. South San Francisco Walgreens recently learned this lesson when the EEOC sued the largest drug store chain in America for disability discrimination. What happened in this case? Apparently, a long-term employee with the South San Francisco Walgreens who had a known disability of Type II Diabetes, was having a hypoglycemic attack. To avoid passing out and help to stabilize her blood sugar, she grabbed a bag of $1.39 chips. She was in such a rush due to the medical urgency of the situation that she failed to pay for the chips until after she had eaten them. A security office fired her without asking any questions nor allowing her to explain the situation. When you have employees with disabilities that have required reasonable accommodations in the past, you should not act without thinking whether the action you are disciplining them for might be related to their disability and their need for an accommodation. In the end, Walgreens learned an important lesson about making sure that an employee’s actions are not related to their disability prior to taking any disciplinary action against them. A lesson that ended up costing Walgreens $180,000, clearly a significant amount more than the $1.39 it lost for the chips.