Cleburne Store Demoted Department Manager After Denying Him a Reasonable Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - Lowe's Home Centers, LLC, a nationwide chain of home improvement and hardware stores, will pay $55,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Lowe's failed or refused to accommodate a department manager who is disabled because of a spinal cord injury that substantially limits the use of his right arm. The employee was hired by Lowe's as a customer service associate in 2006 and promoted to a department manager in 2008. The company was aware of his disability at the time he was selected for promotion, and he successfully worked as a department manager for six years. The employee's disability prevented him from using power equipment that requires the use of two hands, but he delegated that task to associates under his supervision. EEOC's lawsuit claimed that in June 2015, Lowe's notified the employee that he could no longer be provided with a reasonable accommodation, and demoted him to a non-supervisory associate position. As a result of the demotion, his hourly rate of pay was cut by more than $4 an hour.
The EEOC alleged in its suit that the company's refusal to accommodate the department manager, a qualified individual with a disability, and subsequent decision to demote him to a lower-paying position violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-02589-M) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Barbara Lynn, calls for Lowe's to provide monetary relief to the employee, as well as to conduct training on the ADA for employees, managers and human resources personnel at the Cleburne Store.
"It is important for companies like Lowe's to carefully make decisions regarding reasonable accommodations to ensure its employees with disabilities can perform their work successfully," said Suzanne Anderson, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "The early settlement of this litigation assures that this employee will continue serving as a productive member of the Lowe's team."
"This result benefits both the employee represented by the EEOC and all current and future employees of Lowe's who can successfully perform the essential functions of their job with reasonable accommodation," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Meaghan Kuelbs. "By spreading awareness of the Americans with Disabilities Act through training and notice-posting in the workplace, we hope to educate both employees and employers on the proper steps to take in making and handling a request for reasonable accommodation and thereby prevent additional lawsuits of this sort in the future."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.