MARYVILLE (WATE) – A woman in Blount County received $277,565.44 after she was fired for drinking orange juice to deal with her diabetic condition.
A jury awarded Linda Atkins the money after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Dollar General on her behalf. A jury has ordered Dollar General to pay $27,565.44 in back pay and $250,000 in compensatory damages after violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Atkins, who has type 2 diabetes and takes insulin injections daily, said she was working alone in the fall of 2011 when she went into a hypoglycemic attack. To avoid leaving the cash register unattended she said she grabbed a bottle of orange juice from Dollar General’s cooler and drank it to stabilize her blood sugar. After the episode had passed she said she paid for the orange juice.
Later, Atkins said she told her store manager she had drank the orange juice and asked to have juice near the register. She says the store manager denied her request.
In January 2012, Atkins had the same issue. She felt herself going into a hypoglycemic attack, had juice in the employee cooler in the back, but couldn’t leave the store unattended so she drank orange juice from Dollar General’s cooler. Afterwards she said she paid for it and told her store manager.
Later, the store loss manager visited and Atkins said she was asked about the juice. She says she told him she had paid for it and asked again to keep juice near the register. She was asked to write a statement about what happened and her position was terminated, according to Atkins.