A South San Francisco cashier for Walgreens will receive a $180,000 payment from Walgreens for being fired in 2008 for eating a $1.39 bag of chips while on the job to fight an attack of low blood sugar. The employee suffers from diabetes, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
The settlement was announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week in the lawsuit it filed on the behalf of Josefina Hernandez. Hernandez had worked for the chain for more than 18 years. Cindy O’Hara, from the EEOC, said that the payment will cover emotional distress and lost wages.
Walgreens did know of Hernandez’s diabetes, according to the EEOC, which said that she suffered a hypoglycemic attack during a shift in September of 2008. Hernandez began to sweat and shake. She ate a bag of chips in an effort to stabilize her blood sugar.
When she was asked later why she took the chips without paying, Hernandez wrote the following note, “My sugar low. Not have time.” A security officer at the store testified that he did not know what she meant in the note, but did not ask her to explain it.
Hernandez claims she paid for the chips following her attack. The store denied any connection between the actions of Hernandez and her illness. They said they fired her for violating a company policy that bans eating products prior to paying for them. O’Hara said that Hernandez has not held a job since being fired by Walgreens.
United States District Judge William Orrick rejected Walgreens’ attempt to dismiss the lawsuit back in April, which is what led to the settlement. Judge Orrick also said that the store failed to show any other misconduct by Hernandez. The EEOC also said that the chain agreed to provide training for its employees on how to accommodate disabled workers.
A lawyer for Walgreens, Chris Murray, said the following in a statement:
“The settlement was consistent with our past and future commitment as an industry leader for accommodating the special needs of any employee who has an illness or disability.”