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Jury returns $3.5M verdict against Rite Aid in disability discrimination case

Jury returns $3.5M verdict against Rite Aid in disability discrimination case

LOS ANGELES—A Los Angeles jury has returned a verdict of $3.5 million against drug store chain Rite Aid Corp. in a disability discrimination case.

Martha Palma had been a store manager at a Rite Aid store in Los Angeles, according to a statement issued Tuesday by Santa Monica, Calif.-based plaintiff law firm Shegerian & Associates Inc. She was fired months after being diagnosed with a “non-work related serious disability” in late 2010, according to the statement, which did not provide further details.

Ms. Palma filed claims for disability discrimination, retaliation for complaining of discrimination and harassment, and failure to engage in the interactive process, according to the statement. A jury in Los Angeles Superior Court found in her favor on each of these claims.

Ms. Palma testified that Rite Aid “treated her differently and terminated her because of the stigma related to employees with disabilities,” Shegerian said in the statement. “She testified that despite being able to perform her job duties, the defendant never tried to discuss accommodations with her, instead manufacturing a false reason to terminate her over—and then fired her.”

A Rite Aid spokeswoman said, “We're evaluating our post trial-options.” A spokesman for the law firm could not be reached for comment.