Home Depot has agreed to pay a former cashier $100,000 for firing her while she was on unpaid leave battling cancer.
Judy Henderson, who started working for Home Depot in Maryland in 1997, was fired in 2010 after notifying the company that she would extend her sick leave longer than expected because of a cancerous tumor. The company cited a seasonal slowdown as the reason for terminating Henderson, but not before hiring a new cashier to replace her.
Under the settlement reached Tuesday, Home Depot will be forced to pay Henderson $100,000 and also give anti-discrimination training to employees at the company, according to court documents.
Stephen Holmes, a Home Depot spokesman, said in an email to The Huffington Post that the Atlanta-based retailer does not admit any wrongdoing in its recent settlement with Henderson.
“We ... do not believe we violated the law with respect to Ms. Henderson, as we have accommodated her on numerous occasions in different ways throughout her thirteen years of employment -- including four and half years of cumulative leave,” Holmes added.
Home Depot isn’t the only retailer that has faced allegations it illegally dismissed disabled staff. Several years ago, a Wal-Mart employee who suffered from a heart condition that causes shortness of breath and difficulty walking was denied a handicap parking space and then fired when he filed a complaint.
Workplace discrimination cases have risen to record levels in the U.S., according to a government study released earlier this year. In 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission received an all-time annual high of 99,947 complaints alleging worker discrimination. About 26 percent charged employers with discriminating on the basis of a disability.
Compared with other industrialized nations, the U.S. has a poor track record when it comes to accommodating disabled workers. A 2009 study of 22 “rich countries” found the U.S. is the only one that does not provide paid sick leave for a worker undergoing a 50-day cancer treatment. It is also one of only three rich nations that does not give paid leave to a worker missing 5 days because of the flu.
Recent efforts that aim to force private companies to grant employees more paid sick time have met with limited success.
(Hat tip: the Atlanta Journal Constitution.)
In 2009, a female Dutch McDonalds employee was fired after she gave a colleague a cheeseburger instead of the cheaper hamburger that had been paid for, The Telegraph reports. A Dutch court ruled that the firing was too severe a punishment and ordered McDonald's to pay the ex-employee the full salary for what were the remaining five-months on her contract, as well as legal fees.
Stephanie Cannon was fired from her reception job at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center of Park Nicollet Health Services on the grounds that she smelled like smoke at work, KSTP-TV reports. Cannon is a regular, pack-a-day smoker who told the local ABC affiliate that she never brought her habit with her to work.
Home Depot fired Judy Henderson in 2010 after she told the company that she would extend her sick leave because of a cancerous tumor. The company agreed to pay $100,000 to Henderson, who had worked at Home Depot since 1997.
Wells Fargo fired Richard Eggers from his job of nearly 7 years in July after discovering that he was caught putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a laundromat washing machine nearly 50 years ago.
Former Tuesday Morning CEO Kathleen Mason claimed that she was fired from her position after she disclosed to the company's board that she has cancer. One board member even allegedly made fun of Ms. Mason's wig. Her charges are being taken to court as she sues her former employers for damages and reinstatement.
Philadelphia Eagles stadium operations worker Dan Leone was fired after he updated his Facebook status criticizing Eagles management for trading Brian Dawkins in 2009, CNET reported. Mr. Leone allegedly posted this: "Dan is ******* devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver...Dam Eagles are Retarded."
In 2007, New Zealand resident Vicki Walker was fired from her job for sending emails in bold, red-underlined all-caps fonts, Fox News reports. Walker was laterawarded $17,000 for wrongful termination.
Barista Christopher Cristwell was fired by Starbucks after he took his pent-up anger out on Youtube, The Daily Mail reported. Known as "The Starbucks Rant Song," Mr. Cristwell told his internet viewing audience that cappucino lovers were "the worst of all." A spokesman for Starbucks stated: 'While Christopher was expressing his own views in the video, the disparaging remarks about our customers and company are unacceptable and out of line with our commitment to our customers and partners (employees).'
Ronald Kratz II was fired from his job as a parts sorter after his employer determine that it interfered with his job performance, Fox News reports. Following his dismissal, Katz filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and lost over 300 pounds.
Russian newsreader Tatyana Limanova was let go after she gave President Obama the finger on live television, The Telegraph reports. Limanova claims that the gesture was just a misunderstanding rather than an insult towards the leader of the free world.