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PRESS RELEASE
9-29-10

EEOC Sues Dodge’s Chicken Store for Disability Discrimination

Federal Agency Charges Hot Springs Store Refused to Provide Reasonable Accommodation for Manager’s Seizure Disorder

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Savings Station Dodge Stores, doing business as Dodge’s Chicken Store #631 in Hot Springs, violated federal law by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a manager who had a driving restriction as the result of her disability, and then firing her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 28, 2010.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the store manager, who had worked for Dodge’s since 2004, developed a disability, a seizure disorder, which prevented her from driving. The EEOC said that the manager twice proposed a reasonable accommodation that involved the reassignment of a daily competitor gas price survey duty that required driving.  The manager asked that the duty be completed by a co-worker or that she be allowed to use alternative means to complete the survey such as phone or Internet in lieu of driving. However, Dodge’s offered only a demotion to a hostess position. When the manager rejected that offer, which would have resulted in a significant pay cut, she was terminated, the EEOC said.

Denial of a reasonable accommodation to a disabled individual violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 6:10-cv-06072 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The lawsuit asks the court to, among other things, grant a permanent injunction enjoining Dodge’s Chicken Store from denying reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals in the future and for lost wages, as well as other out-of-pocket expenses, compensatory and punitive damages to the discrimination victim.

“Reasonable accommodations allow many individuals with disabilities to work,” said Katharine W. Kores, the EEOC’s director for the Memphis District Office. “Employers should understand that ignoring an employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation and discharging her because of her disability is a violation of federal law. The EEOC is committed to its responsibility to enforce the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act.”

Dodge’s Chicken Store #631 is one of several convenience stores and gas retailers that are operated in Arkansas and Mississippi by the D&H Company of Tupelo, Miss.

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