• What was going through the shift manager’s mind? Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    By Steve Ingram

    Court of Appeal Justice Timothy A. Reardon of San Francisco does an especially powerful job of legal writing, simply by stating the facts in this case.

    We won’t attempt to recount all the details. In brief, an employee identified only as A.M., who had fled civil war in her native El Salvador in 1981, started working for Albertsons stores in 1987.

    A jury awarded her $200,000 after finding that Albertsons violated her rights by failing to provide her with accommodations as required under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act. Albertsons appealed, claiming it had done nothing improper.

    A.M. had developed cancer of the tonsils and larynx and took medical leave in 2003. Upon her return to work, she needed to drink water and required frequent restroom breaks.

    She was working an afternoon and evening shift at a Fairfax store in February 2005, with a new store manager and one other employee who was not authorized to use the cash register. A.M. asked the manager to allow her to take a break more than once.

    After multiple calls to the manager, including one in which the manager hung up the phone, A.M. urinated on herself as customers waited in line at her checkout stand. A.M. suffered severe mental symptoms from this incident, made worse because of the stress of her wartime experience, and she was temporarily hospitalized.

    The appellate court upheld the $200,000 verdict by holding that A.M.’s requests for accommodation were not trivial as Albertsons had argued.  A.M. v. Albertsons, LLC. Court of Appeal 1st Dist. Div. 4 (A122307)

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