Walgreens Sued For Firing An Employee Who Stole A Bag Of Chips

Walgreens employee fired for stealing chipsJosefina Hernandez had worked for Walgreens for 18 years before she was fired in September 2008. Her crime: stealing a bag of chips. Walgreens had little concern for the employee's mitigating circumstances: an attack of hypoglycemia. And now America's largest drugstore chain faces a federal court lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminating against a disabled employee, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the Americans with Disability Act, an employer must "provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer ('undue hardship')." In 2008, the Disabilities Act was amended to include diabetes.

Whether or not a $1.39 salty snack qualifies as undue hardship will now be under trial.

"They said they had a zero-tolerance policy," David Offen-Brown, an attorney with the EEOC, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hernandez claims that she usually carried candy in her pocket, in case her blood sugar dropped dangerously low. But that day, Hernandez had forgotten to bring any glucose-boosting treats. She claims that she was going to pay for the chips as as soon as she could leave her cashier's post, but Walgreens fired her all the same.

"Accommodating disability does not have to be expensive, but it may require an employer to be flexible and open-minded," William Tamayo, the EEOC's region attorney in San Francisco, said. "One wonders whether a long-term, experienced employee is worth less than a bag of chips to Walgreens."



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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

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Hasib

At the end of the day, whether it was really an attack or just a lady trying to nab a free bag of chips: when an employee works somewhere 18 fricken years of their life you shouldn't just fire them for something so small. It's ridiculous because the lady (guilty or not) would have probably gotten paid around $17/hourly, but since she got sacked for stealing $1-2, she probably had to work for significantly less the past three years.

If she got a new job for around $10 an hour she has lost between $28,080-$56,160 (depending on what her hours were, and if she payed the assumed 10% income tax or not). In other words that Walgreen's store could have SAVED that much by hiring someone new who worked for nearly minimum.

Overall I just want to say I've worked in a grocery store here in Toronto for two years, and my mom has for over 11 years. People steal all the time, and most of the time it's not even regarded as "stealing". Guys who worked at the meat department would always come up to me with a $5 discounted piece of meat which looked perfectly fresh, and many times the supervisors were aware but didn't make a big deal out of it. At worst they'd call you over and make you put it back or pay a different price, but taking it to the head office and getting someone fired is an extreme measure which only happened to the idiots who went as far as to steal $100+ from the store.

September 26 2011 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
meredithlreid

She may have forgotten her candy for emergency situations, but if she were having a hypoglycemic attack, why would she go for a bag of chips and not the candy that's located in the same aisle?

As someone who experiences hypoglycemic episodes myself, even if I forget my emergency candy in my pocket, I always have some near my workstation. I can usually feel when an attack is coming, and even when they occur suddenly, I have enough time to let my fellow employees know what is happening so they know that something is wrong.

There are several things in this story that don't add up. What was the woman's work record like? Yes, she may have worked for them for eighteen years, but was she a good employee? Had something like this happened before? How long has she been having these attacks?

September 14 2011 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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