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Kmart paying $102,000 for not hiring kidney patient

Kmart paying $102,000 for not hiring kidney patient

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a $102,048 settlement with Kmart Corp. over its drug screening policy with regard to an applicant with kidney disease, which is the third such suit it has settled.

After Kmart, a unit of Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears Holding Corp., offered Lorenzo Cook a job in its Hyattsville, Maryland store, Mr. Cook advised the hiring manager he could not provide a urine sample under the company's mandatory pre-employment drug screening policy because of his kidney disease and dialysis.

He requested a reasonable accommodation, such as a blood, hair or other drug test that did not require a urine sample, but Kmart refused and denied Mr. Cook employment because of his disability, said the EEOC in its statement Tuesday.

The agency charged Kmart with disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in litigation filed last year.

“There was a readily available alternative to the urinalysis test in this situation,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis Jr., in the statement. “This case demonstrates that the consequences of failing to comply with the ADA can be far more expensive than the actual cost of providing a reasonable accommodation.”

Kmart said in a statement, it “has always maintained strong anti-discrimination and accommodation policies and takes its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act very seriously. We vigorously disagree with allegations made by the EEOC in this case and decided to settle solely to avoid the burden, expense, and uncertainties involved in continued litigation and to eliminate disruption to our day-to-day businesses. Resolution of this matter allows us to focus our energies and resources on providing our customers and members with superior service and value.

In June, the EEOC announced a $30,000 settlement with the Fort-Worth, Texas-based Fort Worth Center of Rehabilitation in a suit involving a similar situation, while in October, it announced a $72,500 settlement with Wal-Mart Stores East, L.L.P., a unit of Bentonville Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in a case that also involved drug testing of a job applicant with a kidney disorder.

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