Hobby Lobby Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $35,000
According to court papers filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), Hobby Lobby prohibited Julie Tufts, an employee in its Rochester, Minn.-based store, to use her wheelchair when performing her job and failed to accommodate her inability to climb ladders. This is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and as a result, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay Tufts $35,000 plus other relief to settle her discrimination claim. The ADA portion of her claim was that Tufts was unable to continue to work at Hobby Lobby due to the alleged discrimination and was discharged because she could not come back to work without use of the wheelchair.
Along with paying $35,000 Hobby Lobby signed an injunction against discrimination and retaliation. Retaliation takes place when an employee is singled out because of filing a claim of discrimination or asking for a reasonable accomodation. In this case asking for a reasonable accomodation because of Tufts requirement to be in a wheel chair. As part of the settlement Hobby Lobby must revise its internal policies to clarify that persons with temporary impairments may be considered as persons with disabilities. Hobby Lobby must also conduct employee training on ADA issues and update its employee handbooks.
“This case might never have arisen if Hobby Lobby had clear policies to guide its management and human resources employees in determining whether to provide reasonable accommodations to employees whose impairments are long-lasting but not necessarily permanent,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the agency’s Chicago District.