Federal Agency Alleged Company Refused to Accommodate Disabled Food Demonstrators
ST. LOUIS - CROSSMARK, Inc., a Plano, Texas-based international sales and marketing company that provides food demonstrators to major American retailers and warehouse stores, will pay $2.65 million and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC filed suit in 2018 alleging CROSSMARK allowed employees who prepared and served food samples to shoppers to sit on stools for no more than ten minutes every two hours, regardless of their medical conditions or restrictions. EEOC alleged that sitting for longer periods would have been a reasonable accommodation that enabled employees to perform the job. Some employees were permitted to sit as needed when they performed the same job while working directly for the retailers, but when CROSSMARK took over the events, it refused to allow the same accommodation, according to the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CROSSMARK, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-1760), in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief for over one hundred former food demonstrators, the four-and-a-half-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel on November 20, 2019, requires CROSSMARK to designate ADA Coordinators to address requests for accommodations, revise its disability discrimination and reasonable accommodation policies, provide training to managers and employees, and establish a toll-free number for employees to obtain information about requests for accommodations.
"People with disabilities make substantial contributions to our workplaces and economy," said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis. "We appreciate CROSSMARK's commitment to ensuring reasonable accommodations for its workers nationwide."
L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, added, "Providing reasonable accommodation to qualified workers who are able to perform the essential functions of their jobs is not only required by law, it is smart business."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.