KFC Franchisee Pays $30,000 for Disability Discrimination Claim but it could have been Worse!
A KFC Franchisee in Dublin, Georgia recently settled a disability discrimination case with a former manager who had bipolar disorder for $30,000. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the federal watch dog for anti-discrimination employment laws, the owner/operator found out the store manager was taking prescription medicine for her bipolar disorder. He then made her flush her medicine down the restaurant toilet. The store manager later told the owner she was going to continue taking the medication per her doctor’s orders, and the owner fired her. The store manager asserted a disability discrimination claim and the franchisee settled for $30,000.
This fact scenario should serve as a cautionary tale for employers. While the facts are told from the perspective of the EEOC, why would an employer ever want to address such an issue in such a graphic and demeaning way? Jurors – and Judges – find this type of behavior especially egregious and if they are given the chance jurors are more likely to award punitive damages in these types of cases. Additionally, why would an employer decide it knows what’s best for the medical welfare of its employees? Even if the employer was a doctor, is the employee a patient? Employers should make accommodations as needed and as directed by a medical professional. It is not for the employer to second guess the diagnosis or place judgment on the employee’s condition.
Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on the ADA, as well as other civil rights issues and employment laws in general. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.