U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Grocery Store Chain Denied Employee a Reasonable Accommodation and Demoted Him Due to Disability, Federal Agency Charged
 

DETROIT – Meijer, Inc., a grocery store chain based in Grand Rapids, Mich., will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC alleged that Meijer violated federal law by denying an employee a reasonable accommodation and demoting him to a lower-paying job because of his disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a cashier at Meijer’s Commerce, Mich., store had been allowed to work almost exclusively in the U-Scan (self-checkout) area because of his disability for five years. A new supervisor then put him more in regular cashier lanes and the employee responded by submitting work restrictions. To accommodate his disability, the employee asked to work exclusively at the U-Scan lanes, or in the gas station or at the customer service desk. Instead, Meijer placed him in a lower-paying, part-time greeter position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that a covered employer reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability and prohibits adverse actions such as demotions because of that disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Case No. 19-cv-12332) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief, and training for managerial, supervisory and human resources personnel on the requirements of the ADA, as well as reporting to the EEOC any employee requests for reasonable accommodations.

“The ADA is clear: an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability and cannot demote the employee because of that disability,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “The training and reporting provisions under the consent decree provide meaningful protections for Meijer employees.”

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio.

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