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Press Release 09-28-2011

EEOC Sues Alabama Thrift Stores for Disability Discrimination

Federal Agency Charges Company Refused to Accommodate Employee With Joint Condition and Then Fired Her

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – America's Thrift Stores of Alabama, Inc. (also known as Alabama Thrift Stores) violated federal law by refusing to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation and subsequently firing her because of her disability, degenerative joint disease, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. Alabama Thrift Stores buys new and used items from local charities and department stores to sell to the public, and operates 15 stores in five states.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the company's Alabaster, Ala., store discriminated when it failed to provide Jenny F. Grimes with a reasonable accommodation after she informed them of her disability and her need for an accommodation. The EEOC contends that Grimes had maintained a good work record during her three years at the company. When she requested the use of a computer as an accommodation to perform some of her job duties, Alabama Thrift Stores denied her request. A week after Grimes presented the employer with documentation of her disability, the company fired her, calling her a "liability." The EEOC contends that Grimes was able to perform the essential functions of her job with an accommodation.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (EEOC v. America's Thrift Inc., Case No. 2:11-cv-03466-AKK) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

"A person who happens to have a disability should not be excluded from or limited in employment opportunities," said EEOC District Director Delner Frankin-Thomas. "We hope cases like this one encourage employers to ensure they and their employees comply with the law."

C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District, added, "The ADA and its amendments prohibit discrimination based on disability against people who are able to perform their jobs. The law also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The EEOC is committed to enforcing the law and defending employees' rights."

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