Hobby Lobby to Settle $50K Disability Discrimination Suit at Kansas Store

May 10, 2023

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a national arts and crafts retailer, will pay $50,000 to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Hobby Lobby violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it failed to allow a part-time clerk at its Olathe, Kansas store to use her service dog on the job as a reasonable accommodation for her disabilities, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The part-time clerk performed cashier duties and assisted in the seasonal, home accents, and floral departments, including stocking shelves and unloading and stocking merchandise on “truck day.”

When the clerk sought permission to bring her service dog to the store, the manager asked her to provide medical documentation to support her request, which she did, and she also provided information at the request of corporate human resources. The company’s district manager and human resources decided, without any supporting evidence, the dog would present a safety issue, even though customers were permitted to bring service and pet dogs to the store. Hobby Lobby ultimately fired the clerk when she advised the company she could not work without her service dog.

Such alleged conduct violates the ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 22-cv-02258) in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, after first attempting to reach a settlement via its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree requires Hobby Lobby to pay $50,000 in monetary damages to the former clerk and to adopt and maintain policies, enact procedures, and provide employee training to ensure future compliance with the ADA. Hobby Lobby must amend its policies to provide that service animals can be considered reasonable accommodations. The decree also requires Hobby Lobby to notify employees of their right to reasonable accommodation under the ADA and periodically report to the EEOC.

Source: EEOC

Topics Lawsuits Kansas

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