Court Awards $600K in AutoZone EEOC Case

June 7, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal court jury has returned a verdict of $600,000 against AutoZone, Inc. for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a disabled sales manager, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

In the lawsuit, AutoZone was charged with requiring a sales manager to perform certain cleaning tasks, including mopping floors, which violated his medical restrictions. The sales manager, who worked at the company’s Macomb, Illinois, retail store until 2003, is disabled with permanent back and neck impairments.   

According to the announcement, the EEOC presented evidence that mopping floors was a non-essential function of the sales manager position that could have been reassigned to other employees, and that the employee could perform all of the essential functions of his job. The sales manager testified that that he asked not to be assigned mopping and supported his request with documentation of his impairment.  

The EEOC’s evidence at trial indicated that in 2003, new store management refused the request and required the employee to mop, leading to further injury and necessitating a medical leave.  

The agency charged that the company’s actions violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to the known physical limitations of employees with disabilities. Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation may include the elimination or modification of a non-essential job duty, or the transfer of a non-essential job duty to another employee, the EEOC said.

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