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Walgreens sued over firing diabetic who took chips

Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2011

When Josefina Hernandez, a longtime Walgreens employee with diabetes, felt an attack of hypoglycemia coming on in September 2008, she grabbed a $1.39 bag of chips and ate them to boost her blood sugar, she said.

Hernandez said she paid for the chips as soon as she could leave her cashier's post at the South San Francisco drugstore. She said she tried to explain her actions to Walgreens, but the company fired her.

"They said they had a zero-tolerance policy," said David Offen-Brown, an attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed a federal court suit Thursday accusing the Illinois retailer of discriminating against a disabled employee.

Hernandez had worked nearly 18 years for Walgreens with no disciplinary record, the EEOC said. She told the agency she usually carried some candy in her pocket in case her blood sugar dropped, but hadn't brought any along that day.

"I knew I needed to do something quickly, so I reached for a bag of chips and paid for them as soon as I could," she said in a statement released by the agency. "I am very upset to lose my job over this."

William Tamayo, the EEOC's regional attorney in San Francisco, said federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities such as diabetes.

"Accommodating disability does not have to be expensive, but it may require an employer to be flexible and open-minded," he said. "One wonders whether a long-term, experienced employee is worth less than a bag of chips to Walgreens."

The suit seeks back pay and other damages for Hernandez. Walgreens declined to comment.


"One does not simply walk into Walgreens. There is evil there that never sleeps."


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Comments

mermaidstitcher
Sep. 10th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
AT&t is evil too. I was fired for being 2 seconds slow (productivity) I was an information operator. That is the official reason. I believe it was because I have Crohns. But believing and proving are 2 different things.
kusanagi_sama
Sep. 11th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
This one is better in the fact that Walgreens was being very unreasonable, an 18 year employee is more valuable than a $1.39 bag of chips.

Old Dominion is being sued by a former employee who was a truck driver and a confessed alcoholic trying to get treatment. He was demoted and offered a job as a dock worker since obviously they don't want an alcoholic driving their trucks. Well, he sues OD and the EEOC/ADA is claiming that their policy of barring alcoholics from driving trucks is unreasonable if said driver is seeking treatment. The thing is, as a driver, he was being paid approx $22/hr and as a dock worker, he would have been paid about $11/hr and he claims he wouldn't have been able to afford treatment.
kusanagi_sama
Sep. 11th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
mermaidstitcher
Sep. 11th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
The article said it was self reported too. He should be given props for doing the right thing. They should be supportive of him. Some companies just shoot theirselves in the foot. Wonder how many others will not say anything because of this?
kusanagi_sama
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I agree with OD by taking the driver off the road and putting him in a position that keeps him off the road, however the driver didn't see that as fair. Wouldn't want a truck driver that is a known alcohol abuser on the road where he could kill someone.
mermaidstitcher
Sep. 12th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
I thought they fired him. Maybe I miss read.
kusanagi_sama
Sep. 12th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
They only fired him after he refused to come to work as a dock worker. (there are other stories out there, from OD's perspective)

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