Do I have a discrimination against my former employer?

My job went from full time to part time. I was offered 2 options, to stay part-time or to quit and take the severance package. I’ve worked for the company 22 years. I was not offered any other job but upon my leaving another associate in the store was offered my job working part time in receiving and part-time on the sales floor which could have been offered to me but it wasn’t. There was also an option to offer me full-time on the sales floor but that wasn’t offered as well. Upon leaving I have learned that the store manager has stated that she wanted me gone because I have health problems taking medications for such and sweat a lot, I work receiving in an air conditioned area and have a smell. She has told several in the store that she wanted me gone and was using this to do so. This is not hearsay but truth that she has said this and is using the corporate office doing this to my position as an escape goat to get me gone. Is this discrimination?

Asked on September 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

This may be illegal disability-based discrimination, if--as you believe--they refused to offer you those positions due to your medical condition and refused to make reasonable accommodations for your condition. Based on what you write, it is worthwhile for you to contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC to discuss filing a complaint with them.
It is possible that there is a non-discriminatory (that is, non-medical-condition based) reason for not offering you those sales-related positions: maybe you do not have any relevant experience, or that the person(s) who got the position(s) instead of you had better experience--they are allowed to make rational hiring decisions, and would not hve to give you a job you are underqualified for.
It is even possible that your medical condition could itself justify not giving you a customer-facing sales position: if there is no way for you to mask or eliminate your smell and that smell is offensive, it would not be reasonable to give you a job where your personal odor could drive away customers and/or cost them sales. Obviously, if you can mask or eliminate the odor effectively, this last point would not apply.
Still, you have identified reasons to suspect that you were denied opportunties due to your medical condition; that is enough to make it worthwhile to contact the EEOC and see if they will look into the matter.


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