Retailer Refused to Excuse Asthmatic Employee's One-Day Absence and Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges
Macy's, Inc., violated the federal disability discrimination law when it fired an employee rather than excuse a one-day absence the employee needed to address serious complications arising from her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.
"What our investigation indicated," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation, "is that Macy's fired its long-term employee, Letishia Moore, rather than excuse a single day's absence she needed to address complications related to her asthma, which required emergency care. Ms. Moore had been employed by Macy's at its State Street store for close to eight years when Macy's fired her."
The EEOC brought the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Macy's Inc./Macy's Retail Holdings, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-5959) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on August 16, 2017. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including back pay, reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Macy's practices going forward.
Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, said, "Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities that enable them to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodations can include time off. Here, Macy's acted unreasonably - and unlawfully - when it denied Ms. Moore a single day's absence to address her disability-related health complications. Macy's refusal to allow Moore's absence prevented her from continuing to do the job she had done well for many years."
According to company information, Macy's, Inc. is one of the nation's premier retailers. With fiscal 2016 sales of $25.778 billion and approximately 140,000 employees, the company operates more than 700 department stores under the nameplates Macy's and Bloomingdale's, and about 150 specialty stores that include Bloomingdale's The Outlet, Bluemercury and Macy's Backstage. Macy's, Inc. operates stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as macys.com, bloomingdales.com and bluemercury.com. Bloomingdale's stores in Dubai and Kuwait are operated by Al Tayer Group LLC under license agreements. Macy's, Inc. has corporate offices in Cincinnati and New York City.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.