Global retailer Bath & Body Works has been sued by the EEOC for refusing to reasonably accommodate an employee with diabetes and vision issues. Bath & Body Works, LLC, a national retail chain selling bath and beauty products violated federal law by refusing to consider a reasonable accommodation requested by an employee with a disability, and then constructively discharging her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC’s Chicago District office, who supervised the investigation preceding the lawsuit, Jennifer Tvinnereim had worked in the store for a year, and earned a promotion as a Sales Lead. In February 2015, Tvinnereim requested a larger monitor at the cash register to accommodate vision issues she had related to diabetes, but she was simply sent home and had her hours reduced. Bath & Body Works’ corporate human resources department was contacted by Tvinnereim but did not try to provide the larger monitor. The store manager bought a cheap magnifying glass and humiliated Tvinnereim by presenting it to her in front of her co-workers.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires the employer to investigate and discuss an employee’s request for reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Impressions Incorporated, Civil Action No. 0:18-cv-02758, was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson. The government’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Patrick Connor and supervised by EEOC Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp.
“Employers must give serious consideration when an employee requests an accommodation for a disability,” said Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Instead, Ms. Tvinnereim was sent home, had her hours reduced and then was humiliated when told to hold a cheap magnifying glass in front of customers as she used the cash register monitor.”
The EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office is part of the Chicago District, which is responsible for handling 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.
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