Kendall Nichols, who suffers from asthma, was working in a warehouse run by Charlotte-based Insource Performance Solutions when he was asked to conduct an inventory. The warehouse was hot, some of the inventory was stacked high and Nichols feared counting them while perched on a mechanical hoist. He worried that the superheated air would trigger an asthma attack.
Instead, Nichols used a forklift to lower each pallet to the floor where he counted the items. Then he forklifted them back onto the shelves.
When Nichols’ supervisor checked on him, he asked why he was doing the inventory that way.
He explained his asthma concerns, but the supervisor denied his request to use the forklift. Then he sent Nichols home. When Nichols returned the next day, he was told he had been fired for failing to complete the inventory.
The EEOC was only too happy to receive Nichols’ complaint. Insource turned down the chance to settle the case and now the EEOC is suing on Nichols’ behalf, seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
Note: Whenever an employee reveals a disability, employers must explore reasonable accommodations. The EEOC clearly doesn’t consider it reasonable to send an employee home and then fire him.