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Press Release 08-12-2011

Woodman's To Pay $35,000 For Disability Bias

EEOC Said Beloit Store Unlawfully Fired Worker Because of Back Condition

MINNEAPOLIS – A federal  judge has approved a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination  lawsuit against Woodman's Food Market's, Inc. filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC contended that Woodman's  unlawfully fired employee because of her back condition.

The  EEOC charged that a Woodman's store in Beloit,  Wis., terminated Kimberly  McMillan-Goodwin, a long-term Woodman's employee who worked as a clerk at its  gas station, because she had a back condition that kept her from lifting more  than ten pounds. The EEOC contended that  McMillan-Goodwin had successfully worked in that position with the lifting  restriction for many years. Woodman's,  however, placed McMillan-Goodwin on medical leave and then terminated her.

Disability  discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to  reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. On August 11, 2011, Chief Judge William M.  Conley of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin approved the  decree ending the suit.

In resolution  of the suit, Woodman's will pay $35,000 to McMillan-Goodwin. The decree also includes substantial other relief,  including injunctions against any further discrimination and retaliation. Further, the company will adopt a policy  prohibiting discrimination based on disability; update its employee handbooks; conduct  training on the ADA;  and post a notice to employees about the resolution of the suit in all of its  locations. The EEOC will monitor Woodman's  compliance with the decree for two years.

"This case  might never have arisen if Woodman's had had clear policies and training to  guide its management and human resources employees on the requirements of the ADA," said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the agency's  Chicago District, which has jurisdiction over Wisconsin. "Among the most important provisions in the  consent decree, therefore, are the requirements that Woodman's adopt a policy  to clarify its obligations and provide training to its management and human  resources staff."

According to the company's  website (, Woodman's is an  employee-owned corporation operating 13 grocery store locations in Wisconsin and Illinois. The EEOC suit, captioned EEOC v. Woodman's Food Markets. Inc. (Civ. No. 10-cv-562-wmc), was  filed September 28, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Madison.

The EEOC's  Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of  discrimination, administrative enforcement, and conducting agency litigation in  Illinois, Wisconsin,  Minnesota, Iowa,  and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices  in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC enforces federal  laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at