A federal jury has returned a $600,000 verdict against AutoZone, ruling that the auto parts chain’s Macomb store violated the ADA when it refused to accommodate a sales manager’s request to be exempted from mopping floors due to a neck injury.
The jury decided that mopping the floor was not an essential function of the sales manager’s job and could have easily been delegated to another worker after the man presented evidence that the custodial duties exceeded his medical restrictions.
But his bosses refused to budge on the issue, so the manager continued to mop—further aggravating his injury, which led to a medical leave.
The manager complained to the EEOC. And when the company refused to settle the matter through the EEOC’s conciliation process, the commission sued AutoZone on the manager’s behalf.
Note: The amount of the verdict exceeds the statutory cap of $300,000 on compensatory and punitive damages and will likely be reduced in future proceedings. However, the judge will rule on a separate request for $115,000 in back pay for the sales manager.
Advice: Don’t let simple stubbornness cost you big bucks. Really, couldn’t someone else have mopped the floor?
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Investigate even when employee complains belatedly
- Settling ADA claim: Good records essential when offering money in exchange for resignation
- When bias goes companywide, class-action lawsuits will follow
- Cite business reasons to justify terminations