Now there’s a price tag on an ADA case that has been percolating through Illinois courts for years. The AutoZone chain of car-parts stores must pay $415,000 to a former manager who balked at doing custodial chores because of a debilitating neck injury.
A federal court has refused to vacate a June 2011 jury award to John Shepherd. The jury decided AutoZone violated the ADA when it forced Shepherd to mop his store’s floors despite his injury, which the EEOC said was disabling. (See “Is every function really essential? Be flexible about disabled employees’ duties”.)
AutoZone maintained that mopping was an essential job function, although 80% of Shepherd’s work involved managerial tasks.
The jury originally awarded $500,000 in punitive damages. The federal appeals court reduced the punitive figure to $200,000, which—when coupled with $100,000 in compensatory damages—kept the total below the ADA’s $300,000 cap on damages. Shepherd will also receive $115,000 in lost wages.
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