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Food Demonstrator Provider to Pay $2.65 Million to Settle EEOC Disability Suit

Pollack Peacebuilding by Jeremy Pollack

CROSSMARK, Inc. is a marketing and international sales company that manages food demonstrators in retail stores across the United States. The company has not been treating their demonstrators well, though, as charged by the EEOC.  

What Happened?

The EEOC states that CROSSMARK allegedly forbade their employees from sitting on stools for more than ten minutes every two hours while they prepared and served food samples. This policy was applied even if the employees had health problems or other restrictions.

What’s The Issue?

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities. The EEOC does not believe that allowing employees to sit for longer periods while preparing and serving samples would be an unreasonable arrangement. 

Apparently, some of these employees were even allowed to sit as needed when they worked directly for the retailer. When CROSSMARK took over, however, this accommodation was taken away. This shows that allowing employees to sit longer worked in the past.

Some people with disabilities are unable to stand for periods of time (if at all). Only being allowed to sit for ten minutes every two hours could worsen some conditions, or at the very least, cause unnecessary exhaustion for the employee with a disability.

The Settlement 

As well as paying out over $2.5 million to former employees, CROSSMARK will have to make some changes to their company culture in order to make it more supportive of all employees. 

The company will: 

  • appoint ADA Coordinators to assist with accommodation requests 
  • revise its policies on discrimination and reasonable accommodation
  • provide training
  • create a helpline for employees to call to receive information about accommodation requests

Human Rights

A settlement was attempted by the EEOC before the case was taken to court. In cases where discrimination has occurred, mediation becomes trickier and sometimes it seems the only way to bring reconciliation is through a trial.

However, we have hope that mediation can still be useful in extreme cases of conflict. In a previous article, we addressed the role of human rights in conflict resolution. When rights have been violated (like in the CROSSMARK case), it is important for mediators to understand the underlying cause of the violation and seek to address or heal that in order for reconciliation to occur.

                        author

Emma Hartman

Emma Hartman has a Bachelor’s degree in Writing and a background in content coordination, copyediting, and copywriting. Her skills in content development and management together with strong administrative coordination lead Pollack Peacebuilding’s critical initiative of developing and distributing important news, events, advice, and research in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. MORE >

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