Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Dolgencorp, LLC, No. 17-6278 (6th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Atkins, a type II diabetic, occasionally suffers from low blood sugar. She must respond to these episodes by quickly consuming glucose to avoid seizing or passing out. She asked her Dollar General manager if she could keep orange juice at her cash register in case of an emergency. The manager refused. She suffered two episodes while working alone. Each time she responded by drinking orange juice from the checkout cooler, paying for it immediately, and reporting the incident to her supervisor. Dollar General fired Atkins. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A jury found that Dollar General had “discriminate[d] . . . on the basis of disability.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The claim was timely under 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(e)(1), having been timely filed with a state agency that had authority to entertain it. Even if the company’s policy permitted alternative glucose sources, there was evidence suggesting that those options, though medically equivalent in the abstract, were not practically equivalent; the jury had a legally sufficient basis to conclude that Dollar General failed to provide Atkins reasonable alternatives. A company may not illegitimately deny an employee a reasonable accommodation to a general policy and use that same policy (the anti-grazing policy) as a neutral basis for firing him.