Diabetic Cashier In Federal Discrimination Case

The case of the hypoglycemic cashier fired for “grazing” begins with a drop in glucose (blood sugar).

An employee of a discount store in Tennessee felt the symptoms of an insulin reaction come on suddenly, and she drank an orange juice from a store cooler to restore her blood sugar levels. She paid for it later – in more ways than one: not only did she pay the dollar for the O.J., she also got fired.

The specific cause for termination cited by the employer was the violation of their “no grazing” policy that prohibits employees and customers from eating store merchandise prior to paying for it.

Diabetes and Reasonable Accommodation

This did not sit well with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who took the discount retail giant to Federal District Court (EEOC v. Dollar General) citing violations of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) that protects workers from discrimination on the basis of disability and includes instances when an employer does not make reasonable accommodation for disabled workers.

An employee experiencing hypoglycemia may get shaky, have chills, rapid/fast heartbeat, blurred/impaired vision, headaches, and seizures.

The employee had previously requested to keep her own juice at her work station, but the store denied those requests – a failure to reasonably accommodate her diabetes, according to the EEOC. They maintain that an employee should not be fired for having diabetes or for tending to emergency health concerns resulting from a life-threatening medical condition.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and more cases are being diagnosed each year. Employers should learn more about diabetes and how it can affect their company policies regarding eating at work stations.


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