$277K Jury Verdict for Firing Diabetic Cashier for Drinking Juice

November 22, 2016

A federal jury in Tennessee has come down on the side of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), finding that a retail giant (Company) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired a cashier (Employee) at its Maryville, Tennessee, store because of her need to treat her diabetes.

The Employee, an insulin-dependent diabetic, told her supervisor she was a diabetic and requested on several occasions that her supervisor permit her to keep juice near the register to prevent a hypoglycemic attack. At trial, the Employee testified that her supervisor told her that the Company did not allow employees to keep food or drink near the register. In response to symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack and to protect the store when she was there alone one day, the Employee drank orange juice prior to purchase, in violation of the Company’s "grazing" policy. As soon as the medical emergency passed, the Employee paid for the bottle of orange juice that cost $1.69 plus tax. Later, the district manager and loss prevention manager appeared in the store to address inventory shrinkage and fired the Employee after she admitted that she drank orange juice prior to purchase. The Company fired the Employee despite knowing that she drank the orange juice because of her diabetes and that she had requested to keep juice near the register.