Disabled Worker Prevented From Using Stool in Jewelry Kiosk Gets $30K in ADA Suit Settlement

Some employers just don’t get it that they have to accommodate their employees with disabilities, including if necessary letting them veer from workplace protocol.

The latest employer to come up short in the accommodation department is Zale Delaware, dba Piercing Pagoda, a jewelry retailer based in Irving, Texas.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged the retailer with violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by denying a reasonable accommodation to an employee who has degenerative disc disease and fibromyalgia.

According to the EEOC, Rose Gravel because of her disability. Gravel was employed as a manager at a Piercing Pagoda kiosk in Greenville, N.C., beginning in May 2010.

On April 26, 2013, Gravel told Piercing Pagoda she needed to sit for 15 minutes of each hour as an accommodation for her disability, the EEOC said. Before requesting an accommodation, Gravel had been out of work on medical leave related to her disability. Gravel was cleared by her doctor to return to work with the restriction that she should take sitting breaks within the work day. Piercing Pagoda refused Gravel’s request and insisted that she stand her entire work shift. Piercing Pagoda then fired Gravel instead of allowing her the requested accommodation.

Zale came to its senses by agreeing to settle the lawsuit for $30,000, the EEOC announced today.

“The need for an assistive device such as a stool should not disqualify anyone from a job,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “When a qualified employee with a disability is ready and willing to work, the employer has a legal duty to provide a reasonable accommodation to make that employment possible unless the employer can show undue hardship – which EEOC contends was not present in this case.”

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