Walgreens Fires Diabetic for Eating a Bag of Chips

September 15, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit that drugstore giant Walgreens violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by firing a worker with diabetes who ate a bag of chips. 

According  to a news release from the EEOC, Josefina Hernandez, a cashier at Walgreens’ South San Francisco store, was on duty when she opened a $1.39 bag of chips because she was suffering from low blood sugar. Hernandez had worked for Walgreens for almost 18 years with no disciplinary record, and Walgreens knew of her diabetes. Nevertheless, Walgreens fired her after being informed that Hernandez had eaten the chips, even though she paid for the chips when she came off cashier duty.

“I almost always carry a piece of candy in my pocket for situations when I feel my blood sugar getting low, but I didn’t have anything on me this time,” said Hernandez, according to the announcement. “I knew I needed to do something quickly, so I reached for a bag of chips and paid for them as soon as I could. I worked for Walgreens with no problems almost two decades, so I am very upset to lose my job over this.”

The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress, and punitive damages, as well as measures to prevent future discrimination by the employer.