Many companies – particularly those that serve or sell any kind of food or beverages – may have strict policies about when and where employees can consume those goods and how they must pay for them. However, there may be some cases when a physical condition or illness may necessitate a reasonable accommodation that deviates from such policies. This was the case in EEOC v. Dolgen corp, LLC, dba Dollar General Corporation, recently before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The worker in this case was a cashier who was also a diabetic who was insulin-dependent. This condition is also referred to as Type 1 diabetes, and it occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which is the hormone the body needs to get glucose – the simple sugar used for energy, derived from sugars and starches. A condition called hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can arise when the level of glucose in the bloodstream drops below normal. Symptoms can range from being shaky to dizzy to weak or irritable to losing consciousness or having seizures. It can even be deadly if not treated right away.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plaintiff had previously informed her supervisor that she was a diabetic and asked on several occasions that her supervisor let her keep a sugary drink, such as juice, near the register to help prevent a hypoglycemic episode. Her supervisor would later testify at trial that it was company policy not to allow cashiers to keep any food or drinks near the register, as it did not allow “grazing” by cashiers. However, the company did have a reasonable accommodation policy that could have allowed the worker to keep her drink near the register. Problem was that for whatever reason, the workers at this particular store – including the management – were unaware of this policy. Continue reading