People in the Houston area who suffer from diabetes have to pay careful attention to what they eat. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed two disability discrimination cases on behalf of diabetic employees who were fired for allegedly stealing food from their workplaces.
The first EEOC lawsuit was filed against Walgreens on behalf of an employee who was fired after taking a $1.39 bag of potato chips while she was experiencing a hypoglycemic attack. Though the employee attempted to pay for the chips, no one was working at the counter, so she kept the chip bag and continued working. The woman was fired for alleged theft, but her case was later settled outside of court for $180,000.
The second EEOC lawsuit ended with a jury decision in favor of the diabetic employee. A Dollar General employee was awarded $27,565.44 for back pay and $250,000 for compensatory damages after she was fired for taking a $1.69 bottle of orange juice during a hypoglycemic attack. Though the woman paid for the juice, she was fired after telling a manager about what happened.
Employers do not always have to allow disabled employees to steal merchandise. However, employers must make reasonable accommodations for their employees' disabilities so that medical emergencies can be avoided. People who have been fired from their job because of actions that they took because of a disability may want to talk to a lawyer about whether their employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and, if so, what recourse they may have.