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PRESS RELEASE
9-30-11

Safeway Sued for Disability Discrimination

EEOC Says Qualified Employee Repeatedly Denied Promotion, Told ‘You Need Two Hands’ To Advance 

SAN FRANCISCO — Grocery retail chain Safeway, Inc. violated federal law when it repeatedly denied promotion to an employee with cerebral palsy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed today under the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).

According to the EEOC’s investigation, Glenn Davis, who worked as a clerk at Safeway’s store in Carmel, Calif., was deterred from applying for a promotion by his supervisor.  When Davis, who has cerebral palsy and physical limitations in one of his hands, expressed a desire to advance, his supervisor consistently advised him that he needed two hands to perform the jobs he was interested in, said the agency.  Meanwhile, other less qualified employees obtained promotions.  Only after filing an EEOC charge, Davis finally was promoted. 

The ADAAA prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.  The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Safeway, Inc.) in the Northern District of California after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.  The suit seeks monetary relief as well as measures to prevent future discrimination by the employer.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “Discouraging employees with disabilities from trying to improve their skills or seeking promotion is illegal discrimination.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “Don’t confuse disability with inability.  The ADA encourages us to open doors to all a worker can do, rather than preemptively rejecting qualified and motivated employees, who just so happen to have a disability.”

According to www.safeway.com, Safeway, Inc., the major grocery retail chain is headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, and employs approximately 35,000 people in the Northern California Division, which is comprised of 273 stores. 

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