EEOC Sues Kohl’s for ADA Violation

August 25, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Kohl’s Department Stores violated federal law when it refused to accommodate a diabetic employee’s request for a regular schedule and forced her to quite her job at a Westbrook, Maine, Kohl’s store, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.  

The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. 11-00320, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, alleges Kohl’s failed to accommodate Pamela Manning, who began to suffer significant complications to her diabetes after Kohl’s switched her from her long-held set schedule to an irregular schedule. 

According to an EEOC news release, the lawsuit states her oral requests for a return to a set schedule were repeatedly ignored. After Manning brought a note from her doctor that explained the need for her to work a predictable day shift to help prevent serious complications from her diabetes, Kohl’s again refused to change her schedule. When Manning told Kohl’s the scheduled hours would kill her, its store manager laughed and told her she would not accommodate her. Manning then had not choice but to resign her employment to protect her health.

Kohl’s refused to accommodate Manning even though it had numerous employees on set schedules and had accommodated employees’ scheduling requests for such reasons as day care, transportation and other personal needs.

The agency is seeking monetary relief for Manning, the adoption of strong polices and procedures to remedy and prevent disability discrimination by Kohl’s training on discrimination for its managers and employees, and more. 

“Employers  are obligated to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities, and this  obligation becomes even more serious when a worker has a potentially  life-threatening illness,” said Markus L. Penzel, trial attorney in the EEOC’s  Boston Area Office, in the announcement. 

Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District, added, “Keeping Ms. Manning on a regular, set schedule would have posed no undue hardship on this company. When one considers the possible dire consequences of ignoring her needs, refusing her request out of hand was  unconscionable.”

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